Summary: Lexie knows for a fact the world is not what it appears to be, myth is truth and fairytales are reality. A lifetime of going up against unimaginable foes has made Lexie the hero she is today, but Lexie must now confront the most dangerous creature out there, her new lawyer. And this time Lexie is in for the battle of her life.

Disclaimers: This story is a mythological fairytale fantasy action adventure. The story and characters are mine, although the identities of some were taken from the collective knowledge of world literature. Any similarity to persons living or dead is a coincidence, any similarity to creatures or entities living, dead or imagined is intentional.

Warning: There are some fight scenes that contain violence and might be considered gory by some. This story depicts loving/sexual relationships between women.

All comments are welcome; please send them to

July 8, 2013



A Lifetime

by Drew Meyers



Darkness descended and all noise ceased, for a moment there was only the dark and the quiet. Suddenly, from out of the darkness came a strange and otherworldly sound, barely perceptible at first, soft and calm, as if a gentle breeze had been given voice. Slowly it began to build in volume and tempo. As the melodic sound grew a soft light broke from deep in the darkness outlining a large and craggy mountain to one side and an ancient forest opposite it. The music crescendos as creatures erupt from the forest, giving chase to a stranger among them. The forest creatures moved to block each turn of the small elfin like stranger that had entered their domain. The chase was controlled, the fleeing was frantic. As the creatures closed in the stranger vaulted over their heads and ran for the mountain, reaching the base and easily springing from boulder to boulder to boulder in a rapid assent. Nearing the top of the path it was suddenly blocked by two large frightening creatures. With no other choice the elfin stranger leapt off the mountain only to have a savior drop from the sky and rescue it from certain death. The startled stranger looked back to see the creatures running down the mountain in fear as the savior, still holding the small elfin stranger, sprung back to the heavens without ever touching earth.

The audience gave a collective gasp as the two soared back up out of sight then broke into applause. Only to refocus their attention seconds later on the next feat of amazing skill and performance.

High above the tumbling performers on stage, in the shadows, Lexie prepared the silks for her next drop into the performance area. She double checked the harness rigs on Zolie who had just brought her up and Kara who would be dropping with the two of them in a few moments. Satisfied everything was safe for her performers she quickly made the last two wraps of the long blue silk fabric around her waist and gave Zolie a wink then did a back dive off the platform right on cue.

Zolie cringed at the hastily rushed exit while Kara gave a chuckle. “I hate it when she does that.” He growled as they watched her spinning down through the loops of her silk stopping just as she reached the end, fifteen feet from the stage floor.

“I seriously think Mac is right, that girl is part flying monkey.” Kara noted as she prepared for her cue to jump down and pluck Lexie from her silks.

Both Kara and Zolie were on double bungee harnesses and could dance on the air with ease as they stole Lexie away from her silks and tossed her back and forth with no harness or safety net. It was a perfectly timed aerial display of grace and agility. The audience would gasp and hold its breath as it always did every time Lexie was on stage.

After their final curtain call the performers exited the stage, breaking off to collect costumes and props before making their way to the dressing rooms. Lexie headed straight for her stage manager. Mac looked up from the cable she was disconnecting to see the small compact frame of her boss and best friend bearing down on her. The intensity in the glacier blue eyes that could just be seen through a mop of reddish brown hair told her that despite the small woman's casual posture she had something serious to discuss.

“We have a problem.” Lexie said as she approached.

“The grid?”

Lexie nodded her head, as she looked skyward trying to see the large metal grid of four by four squares hanging high in the darkness above everything. “It was slowing on the upward rotation, about three quarters through the routine and I thought I heard a grinding sound when it stopped.”

Mac adjusted the cable to its safety position and joined her boss looking upward. “I thought I saw you nearly get your head taken off out there. Nice save by the way.” She ran a hand through her unruly sandy blonde hair causing the short locks to stick out in even more directions. “I'll bring it down and check it out as soon as everyone clears out. We might be looking at replacing the motor. I told you it's not meant for the kind of strain you put it under.” Muddy green eyes glared accusingly down at the knowing smirk that was pointedly glaring back.

“Just let me know what you find. We still have one more night here and if I have to lose the rotation I want to call a rehearsal tomorrow and put Becks and Devon on the stationary.”

“Lex if the motor is fried it won't hold a horizontal position with three of you up there.” Mac explained unnecessarily.

Lexie just smiled and gave her friend a wink. “Give it a four point lock off and it will be fine.”

There went the rest of Mac's night. “Right, listen you got a red flag on the computer about fifteen minutes ago.” Together they walked to the console backstage that held the control board for all the stage equipment and three computers. Mac sat and quickly pulled up the information.

Through Mac's wizardry with a computer and a system of informants Lexie had put together, she was able to get immediate notice of any unusual occurrences in all of Europe . The report was coming out of Slovakia ; a man was attacked and killed by a dog. While dog attacks were not unheard of, one that chews through a man's chest and eats the heart is.

“Can you get me a picture?” Lexie asked as an unsettling feeling washed over her. Mac began furiously typing and within a few minutes she had hacked into the police files.

As the crime scene photos came up Mac was very glad she had not yet eaten any dinner. “A dog did all that?”

Lexie laid a hand on Mac's shoulder causing her to nearly jump out of her skin. “Change of plans. Rehearse them for the scramble, it's Bella's show now.”

Mac knew that tone of voice, this was serious and nothing about it felt good. “Wolf pack?”

Lexie slowly shook her head. “Too clean for a pack. This is specific. Would you clean up for me, I've got to go. I'll meet you guys in Munich .”


“The question is not what is it, the question is what is it doing in central Europe .” Taking the small piece of paper Mac held out with the location of the attack Lexie quickly headed for the back door.

Hitting the door Lexie heard Mac call out. “Be careful and don't be late!”

The company's two tractor-trailers were parked behind the theatre. One truck for transporting sets, costumes, props and equipment while the other carried all the electronic equipment for the show and acted as Lexie's private office while on the road. Mac had installed impressive computer terminals for her main information center. From here she could keep track of all the strange and unusual goings on around the world. There were also a small living quarters for Lexie and a secure compartment that held her cache of weapons, which were required for her day job.

Reaching the modified tractor-trailer, Lexie slid a small panel open next to the side door of the trailer, swiftly she entered the security code and jumped up into the rear of the truck locking the door behind her. Within moments she had showered off the stage makeup and was dressed in black leather pants that fit her muscular body like a glove, a simple black t-shirt and a leather vest with special hidden pockets for a couple dozen throwing knives. She moved to the vault and punched in a different security code. Inside the small room the center wall held an array of swords of every size and style. The right wall was made up of angled shelves displaying her knife collection while the left wall held an assortment of ancient weapons. Lexie slid two daggers into the sheath in each of her boots then slid her throwing knives into the vest. Next she buckled on a belt that held a larger set of throwing knives at her lower back, and secured a custom made baldric under her left arm and retrieved her favorite katana sheathing it in the harness, the blade neatly fitting along her left side. She locked the vault and headed to the back of the truck grabbing a long black leather coat and slipping it on as she punched another code in to open the back doors.

Mac had just stepped out into the cool night air when she heard the sound of a motor revving, she looked up in time to see Lexie flying out the back of the truck on a sleek black motorcycle. Hitting the pavement at full throttle the small woman never slowed down or looked back. As the doors on the truck automatically closed themselves Mac whispered a small plea, ‘be safe'. Needlessly checking the truck to make sure it was secure, Mac headed back inside to begin a long night of refitting for tomorrow night's performance.


Like a shadow Lexie sped through the night quickly leaving Prague far behind, speeding along country roads and up into the mountain passes. By midday she had reached the sight of the attack, a park on the edge of a small town in Slovakia . The area had been decimated by so many boot prints, but it was easy for Lexie's eye to catch the faint impression of a sandal print that did not belong. She followed it away from the main area towards the tree line. Entering the woods Lexie stopped to get her bearings, she stilled her entire body and slowed her breathing, the only sound that could be heard were a few birds in the trees. Taking a deep breath she began separating the different smells of the forest: trees, dirt, lichen, dead leaves, birds, chipmunks, dogs, ant colonies, a skunk, and mixed in with everything was a scent that did not belong. A desert smell of sand, heat, sun and blood. Following the scent Lexie began tracking the jackal that was very far from its homeland.

Once she had the scent she could move with astonishing speed. Like a shadow she moved deeper into the forest. As the day started to draw to a close and the sun began it's decent beyond the mountains, darkness crept into the heavily shadowed woods. Lexie came to a halt, sensing something in the air. Her skin prickled with the agony that filled the area. The strong scent of desert filled her nostrils and she knew her search had come to an end. A painful wail of frustration echoed off the trees as she came upon a small clearing where the jackal knelt tearing at the ground. Sensing a new presence the canine head spun around to growl a warning before jumping to its feet. Lexie had carefully stepped out of the tree line to observe the creature, her head aching with the pain resonating off him. She made no sudden moves, but watched the tortured creature rail at her presence.

She had encountered jackals before and known them to be fierce but noble creatures, the children of Anabus and guardians of the Egyptian underworld. She began to speak, hoping to calm it, “Who did this to you, how did you come to be so far away from home?”, she asked in the ancient language. This only seemed to enrage him more as the glowing yellow eyes bore into her. The cuts and tears in his flesh all looked self-inflicted, someone had removed this creature from its rightful place and was torturing it to death. It was out of its mind; unable to speak or think rationally, being driven insane, it was striking out in a most horrific way.

Before Lexie could figure out how to get the creature home to Anabus he lunged grabbing her arm and biting down on her left shoulder. Her body automatically began a defensive attack without having to think about it. She stabbed one of the larger throwing knives into a muscled hip causing the razor sharp teeth to let go of her bloodied shoulder. She swept the creatures legs out from under it and spun away to draw her boot daggers. The strong body was back on its feet and charging again. Pushing forward, in a blur of glinting metal Lexie managed to get in a few blows, slashing arms, hands and chest, but the creature pushed on paying no attention to the wounds.

“I just want to take you home.” Lexie yelled as she was once again forced back by crushing blows to her head and shoulder. This only seemed to enrage him further as he charged with amazing speed and strength. Lexie tripped over a bush as she peddled backwards and landed on her back, the jackal quickly taking advantage and sinking his teeth into her side, tearing flesh and breaking bones. She managed to pull her feet up and kick him off as she rolled away and quickly flipped over to the other side of the clearing. The jackal was on his feet again just as fast and charging her. Lexie prepared to do a dive roll and plunge the daggers into his kneecaps, but just as she was about to dive he faltered and stopped his charge.

He seemed to be struggling, fighting something from within, for a brief moment the yellow glow left his eyes and he looked at her pleading. “End it.” He managed to choke out before the glow was back and a deafening growl filled the air.

In that brief moment Lexie saw the being that this crazed creature had once been. Throwing her daggers at him sinking one in a shoulder, the other in a hip she flipped herself over the creature, pulling her sword as she landed and came forward as he spun around for the attack. In one swift motion her katana sang out and the canine head was removed from the human body.

Breathing hard and holding her side Lexie watched as the yellow glow faded and the eyes returned to their normal black. Within moments the body began to turn to dust leaving a pile that was quickly scattered in the wind that had begun to pick up seemingly just to blow the remains away. Reaching down to retrieve her daggers from the billowing particles she whispered, “Return home now.” Resheathing her weapons Lexie began the long and much slower trek back to where she left her bike.


The company had arrived at their next gig in Munich and while the cast enjoyed a much needed rest, Mac over saw the installation of their set and equipment. It had been three days since Lexie had driven off into the night, and she was beginning to worry. Not that it was unusual for Lex to take off; she was just usually only gone for no more than twenty-four hours. They had been in Munich for two days now and not a word from their mysterious leader. Mac knew better than anyone that Lexie could take care of herself, but it did not stop her from feeling protective of the smaller woman. By mid afternoon she was in the truck working on a computer program to show Lexie for the new show they were designing when a familiar sound caught her attention. Jumping from her seat Mac ran outside to see Lexie rolling up beside the truck.

Coming to a full stop Lexie flipped the kickstand down with her foot, cut the engine and slumped over the gas tank. Mac was by her side in an instant as she put a steadying arm around Lexie's shoulder. The smaller woman tried to stifle a small yelp of pain. “Shit Lex! What the hell happened to you?” She undid the chinstrap and removed the helmet with the dark visor to finally get a good look at the exhausted face. There were bruises and cuts that had already begun to heal and dark circles under the dull grey eyes. Trying not to come into contact with the mangled shoulder again Mac slipped her arm around Lexie's waist to help her off the bike, only to have her hand land in another gory mess as another hiss of pain came from the barely conscious woman. “Sorry Lex.”

With no good place to grab hold Mac put one hand under a knee and the other under Lexie's good shoulder as she lifted her off the bike. Lexie opened her eyes and looked at her friend for the first time. “What are you doing?”

“You're a mess Lex, I'm getting you inside.” She said without missing a step, her strong powerful arms gently holding the bloody woman.

“I just need some rest, will you take care of the bike for me?”

The door had been left ajar on the trailer and Mac kicked it open with her foot. “Right after I get you cleaned up and in bed. Nobody's gonna bother your precious bike here, it's safe. Come on, let's get you undressed.”

Wanting to make a joke about Mac's infamous promiscuous behavior but unable to, Lexie barely managed to shake her head. “No shower, just bed, I just need to sleep, I'll be okay.”

“I know you will Lex, you never cease to amaze me with that, but you smell sweetie so lets at least get these clothes off you.”

Gently setting her charge on the bed, Mac began removing Lexie's overcoat. “Well that's ruined.” She said dropping it to the floor in a heap.

“Can be fixed, I know someone.” Lexie mumbled as her eyelids fought to stay open.

“Of course you do.” Mac rolled her eyes and smiled as she began removing all the weapons from their hiding places. “You have more contacts than there are sheep back home.” The tall Scot quipped. She placed the blades aside to be properly cleaned before properly putting them away. Once she had removed all of Lexie's clothing with only minimal complaints she took a good look at the damage to the small taunt body. Dried blood covered Lexie's chest and stomach, the bleeding had stopped but it still looked like ground meat and there seemed to be things trying to poke through her friends side surrounding the fleshy holes. “Lex, I think you have some badly broken ribs.”

Taking a deep breath and mumbling something Mac could not understand Lexie ran her hands over her ribs. She laced her fingers together and gave a hard push. The sound of bones crunching was simultaneous with a sharp hiss of pain from the smaller woman and gagging from the taller one.

All color drained from Mac's face. “Oh, that was gross!” She watched in horror as sweat beaded up on her friends snarled lip and Lexie took a couple of deep breaths to prepare herself for one more adjustment to her ribcage. “Aw Lex!” Mac quickly clasped her hands over her ears and squeezed her eyes shut as tight as she could. Her efforts only muffled the cry of pain and she opened her eyes to see Lexie passed out.

Lexie Artem was the strongest, toughest, most well put together person Mac had ever known. Emotionally stunted perhaps but a force to be reckoned with nonetheless. So seeing her like this was always hard to take. Crossing over to the small bathroom Mac gathered some wet washcloths and clean towels; she found a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a pack of cotton and stepped back out into the tiny bedroom. Laying out her supplies on the bed she proceeded to clean Lexie's wounds and get as much grime off the pale body as possible. Satisfied that Lexie was clean and disinfected she pulled soft linens up around the bruised chin and left the healing up to the small woman. Through out the years Mac had known Lexie, she had been witness to some unbelievable things and she knew without a doubt that Lex would be just fine given a little time. So Mac concentrated on the things she could do to help. First she cleaned up the mess then moved to the back of the trailer to lower the ramp.

Devon had seen the bike on his way into the theater and was just about to knock on the door when he heard the ramp being lowered. Looking back he saw Mac moving toward him. “Hey Mac, Lexie back?”

“Yeah, she just got in.”

“Great, I wanted to talk to her about a new grid routine we've been working on.”

Mac grabbed the helmet from the handlebar and popped it down on her head then straddled the bike. “Sorry Dev but she went straight to bed, she was exhausted. Maybe you can catch up with her tomorrow.”

Devon gave a small smile and a nod. “Sure, no problem.”

“Hey Dev,” Mac called as she turned over the engine on the bike “would you mind running everyone through warm-ups and tell the techs I'll be ready in thirty minutes.”

Devon flashed his megawatt smile and just waved as Mac took off down the alley to turn the bike around and come racing past him to the other end only to turn again and go racing up into the company truck. He laughed to himself once again then headed inside to get the warm-up started.

Inside the trailer Mac had secured the bike and helmet then flipped the switch that would retract the ramp beneath the trailer once again. Gathering rags and cleaning supplies she quietly entered the bedroom where Lexie lay sleeping. She checked to make sure the woman was resting comfortably then settled herself at the foot of the bed and began cleaning the assortment of blades.

Every once and a while Mac would look over to make sure Lex was still breathing. She was unsure a few times and had to wait a moment because Lexie's breathing was so slow and shallow. This was not the first time she had sat watch over an unconscious Lexie. Over the years there had been more times than she could remember. She smiled and worked on cleaning one of the daggers as she remembered the first time they met.


Mac had dropped out of college after her first year. She was just not a classroom type of person. Lectures would put her to sleep faster than a bottle of Nitequil. A genius on a computer, but not one to sit in front of one all day, no, Mac liked working with her hands. Tinkering her Dad had called it. Anything mechanical interested her. She was working at a machine shop in Edinburgh when an order came in for a regulator to attach to a motor to retract a stage floor. Instead of calling the customer after building the regulator according to the specifications she decided to deliver it herself, to see just what kind of stage her piece would be working on.

An old dilapidated warehouse served as Lexie's workspace. She had been in Scotland for a couple of months now, roaming the countryside. There was a pack of chupacabra decimating the sheep population along with a few farmers and after dealing with the last one she made her way to the city for a little relaxation. Walking through the park one day she came upon some street performers who were doing an amazing acrobat performance. They had rigged up three poles that came together in a skeletal triangle and hung a long piece of silk fabric from the top. While one performer maneuvered on the silks, another was flipping and tumbling on a cable that had been stretch from one treetop to another high above the audience's heads. Watching them gave her an idea. Of course she had seen Cirque du Soleil, who in the known world hadn't. But the idea of putting together a show that was cohesive in its story telling and a bit more dangerous was appealing to her. So she decided to find an out of the way spot to see what kind of ideas she could come up with.

The sun was playing hide-n-seek and a stiff wind had picked up as Mac made her way down to the address on the work invoice. As she approached the rows of old empty warehouses the sound of music floated on the air. The base pounded out a rhythm telling Mac she must be in the right place. She followed the sound and made an attempt at knocking on a small metal door, but gave up anyone hearing her after a few moments. Slipping through the door she was almost knocked over by the loud music. There were no lights on except near a small table in the far corner, which seemed to hold an impressive stereo system. Dull sunlight filled the space through a row of dirty windows that surrounded the entire building near the top of the walls. In contrast to the exterior the inside had been cleaned of all dirt and debris. A small office in a near corner held a bed, table, and dresser and appeared to be very tidy. Outside the office stood and old refrigerator and a long table with a hotplate, a couple of plates and glasses and an assortment of canned goods. There were trapeze bars and metal hoops, nets and ropes hanging from the ceiling in different places. Two trampolines stood about ten feet apart and a large platform was constructed at one end of the building. A movement above caught Mac's attention and hanging from a piece of fabric was what appeared to be a small girl. She watched as the girl twisted and flipped herself around in the material seemingly in rhythm to the music. It was mesmerizing and Mac found herself unable to move for the better part of fifteen minutes. When she unconsciously stepped forward to get a closer look the movement caught the girl's attention. She stopped her movements and looked at the intruder. Before Mac knew what was happening the kid had unwrapped her body and dropped the last twenty feet to the floor.

Closing the distance by half Lexie put her hands on her hips and gave the tall blonde a suspicious glare. “Is there something I can do for you?”

Mac had been stunned by the speed of the girls movements, or actually now that she was able to get a closer look, she could clearly see it was a woman, a small but well toned woman of nearly five feet and in her late twenties, possibly early thirties. She had yet to realize she had been spoken too. “Hello!” She tried shouting over the music. The lips on the small woman moved again, but she still had no idea what she was saying. “I can't hear you!” She gestured to her ear and then the air and gave the woman an annoyed shrug.

Lexie closed the distance and yelled. “What do you want?”

“Peace and quiet!” Mac raised an eyebrow and patiently stared down at the sweating body from her six-foot height waiting for the noise to cease.

Lexie narrowed her eyes at the rude request and took in the smirking features of the tall woman whose sandy colored hair was wildly sticking out in several directions as muddy green eyes stared down at her with patient humor. Had she not been so annoyed by the interruption she would have found the situation quite comical. Throwing another glare at the human pine tree she turned on her heals and ran to the other end of the warehouse to kill the music. Turning to stare across the vast space she placed her hands on her hips as the last echo of music faded. “Well?” She still had to yell though due to the distance now instead of the noise.

Seeing no movement on the other's part, Mac gave a little huff to herself. She was not too sure about the attitude from little Miss Squirt down there, but the whole slum circus had her intrigued. Slowly she began making her way toward the other end of the building, when she reached a distance where she did not have to yell she held up the box under her arm. “I come bearing gifts.” She smiled and tucked the box back onto her hip. The smaller woman looked questionably at her. “I have the regulator you ordered.” Having arrived at the far end of the building she placed the box on the floor.

Lexie had not been around people for a while so she decided to try and ease up a bit, if she could remember how she would try and be civilized. “I didn't realize delivery was included.” Her tone dripped with sarcasm. Okay, this might take a little practice.

“It's not, I was just curious about what kind of stage you were going to put my regulator on.” Mac turned so she could get a better look at the sparse surroundings.

“Your regulator?” Lexie glared at the tall blonde who flashed a smile back at her. She took a moment to size up the young woman who seemed not to be fazed by the intimidating looks that were being thrown her way. “So, what, your some kind of expert on stages?”

Mac began walking over to the platform. “No, but I do design the lights and effects at The Hideaway.”

Lexie scoffed, “A night club?”

“A strip club.” Mac stated proudly. Lexie gave her a dubious look. “Hey, those girls are amazing and very talented. Besides, Shelly told me she has about doubled her tips since I put in the new show.”

“Lucky Shelly.” Lexie joined Mac by the yet unfinished stage.

“This your stage?”

“It will be.” Lexie watched as Mac walked around the entire structure, examining the underside and moveable sections. “It still has a long way to go.” She offered up as the girl kept examining, sometimes nodding, sometimes frowning.

Mac walked over to the box she had brought and pulled out the piece of machinery, she held it up and looked back at the stage. “So what type of motor are you going to have running this thing, and which control system are you using?” She looked expectantly at the small woman who just stared back with a blank look. “Are you going to sync it up to music, will it be stationary or is it going to move around?” Not getting any answer she looked at the regulator in her hands. “Because depending on what your going to do you might need more than one motor.”

Recovering somewhat Lexie tried to find a way to explain. “Nothing has been finalized yet, it's just a prototype, I'm still trying to work it all out.”

Setting the part down again Mac looked around and then settled her gaze on the only other person in the building. She got the feeling this woman was always the only person in the building. She held out a hand, “I'm Mac, why don't you tell me a little about what you're going to do and maybe I can help with the logistics of the stage.”

Pausing a moment before taking the offered hand in a firm grip Lexie came to the conclusion that this grease monkey just might know a bit more than she did about the technical side of putting together a show. “I'm Lexie.” She relaxed a little as a smooth smile spread across Mac's face. “Come on I'll show you around the torture chamber.”

Mac chuckled as she fell in step beside the blue-eyed pixie as she was beginning to think of her. “I don't suppose there are any lights in here?”

Lexie looked over and gave a half-smile/half grimace. “I can see your going to be a demanding one.”

They both smiled as Lexie moved over to the bank of breaker boxes.



That had been over fifteen years ago. Lexie had quickly realized just how much she needed Mac and Mac found the intellectual and creative challenge she had always wanted in Lexie's ideas while also discovering the beauty and grace of the theater. Together they formed The Nightshadows Ensemble. They had become partners in business, but never in love. Mac was a confirmed bachelor and enjoyed her freedom to love as many women as she could. There was no denying Lexie had an impish beauty, but she quickly realized just how important a friend she had and she never intended to do anything to tamper with that. As for Lexie, she was a loner by choice. Mac had tried to set her up after seeing the look of longing on her friends face many times, but Lexie would never go for it.

The years had been good to them and their company enjoyed continued success. Lexie had forced Mac into working out with her every day teaching her several forms of martial arts including how to fight with a sword, knives and a quarterstaff. This Mac found out later was for her own benefit as well as Lexie's. She learned to never be too surprised at something and to believe in the unbelievable. Lexie had a great many secrets which she eventually shared a few of with Mac. It had taken Mac a while to believe in the mystery of Lexie's life, but after the first vampyre attack on them in the back streets of Odessa , she quickly became a believer. Mythical creatures had now become a part of her daily life and she shared that life with a real and true slayer.

Mac finished cleaning the last blade and sheathed the dagger, looking once again at the sleeping Lexie. The bruises were slowly fading as the woman healed herself. Not for the first time Mac worried about who would take care of Lexie after she grew old and died. Lex would still be here fighting the good fight, alone once more, her youthful appearance belying her true age. Come to think of it Mac herself did not know exactly how old Lexie actually was. She forced the old question out of her mind and headed back to the theater, she had a tech rehearsal and a cue to cue to get through today.






Two days passed and the show opened before Lexie woke from her healing slumber. Soft sunlight filtered in through the blinds across from her bed and Lexie had to blink several times before she could focus. A dried riverbed had apparently formed in her mouth and ravenous hunger gnawed at her insides. Looking around she spied several bottles of water and a pile of fruit Mac had left beside her bed. Smiling at the thought of Mac's motherly caring side, she reached for the water as a groan scratched out of her dry throat. Her sore and stiff body a reminder of exactly what she had been doing prior to her little rest. The fruit was tempting, but first she downed two bottles of water before taking a breath. Two bananas and half an apple disappeared before she could swing her legs over the side of the bed. The room was clean and tidy as always, her dirty clothes and weapons had been cleared away and only a soft thick robe lay across the foot of the bed. She finished off the apple and grabbed an orange as she pulled the robe over her naked body. Bright red lines still marked where her flesh had been torn, but they too would disappear in time. Standing caused a slight dizziness, which she shook off while biting into the juicy citrus. It was time for a long hot shower.

The shower had eased the stiffness in Lexie's shoulder, but only a good work out would take away the soreness in her body. Throwing on a sports bra and calf length leggings Lexie looked at herself in the mirror, the red marks could clearly be seen and she considered putting something else on then changed her mind. She needed a rigorous workout and it was still early enough that no one should be in the theater yet. A dark mood had begun settling around her in the shower as she went over and over again what had happened. By the time she walked through the backstage entrance she was firmly shrouded in a foul mood.

Work lights lit the stage and Lexie went to the control panel that would allow her to drop the hook for her silks. After lowering the hook she went over to a road box backstage and removed her blue silks. Crossing back to center stage she hooked the swivel in, making sure everything was secure, then walked back to the control panel and raised the silks to a fifteen foot clearance.

Mac had been in the dressing room fixing a hoop on one of the costumes when she heard the winch activate. She entered backstage as Lexie was attaching her silks and immediately noticed the red marks on the muscular shoulder and small midriff. Almost as quickly she noticed the bad mood her friend was in. Mac knew some of the things Lexie had to do were hard on her, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Even though Lexie would never talk about it, Mac had watched many times as Lexie worked out her issues on her own body.

The control panel was Mac's domain but Lexie knew how to operate every part of her show. Mac walked up to the panel as the silks stopped their accent. “What's up boss?” Technically they were partners, Lexie owned the larger portion of the company and had given Mac a fifteen percent share of it when she realized what a good team they made. So Mac used the title as a loving tease.

Moving away from the controls Lexie rolled her shoulders and neck while keeping her focus on the silks. “Would you mind putting on Bittersuite at twelve and looping it?”


“I've got something in my head.”

The tension was rolling off Lexie like thunderclouds so Mac being the smartass she was known for being and wanting to lighten the mood a little offered, “I've got a lice comb in the first aid kit.”

All movement stopped on the small compact body and Mac actually swallowed hard as Lexie turned dark grey eyes on her, rendering her frozen until a shiver ran up Mac's spine and she quickly moved to cue up the music. Eye contact broken, Lexie took a running leap and grabbed onto the silks. She climbed half way up then separated the two pieces of fabric and moved into the iron-cross position to wait for the music to start.

The soft sound of violins filled the air while Lexie held her pose, as the volume and tempo began to build Lexie slowly started a routine that no other human would be capable of. The display of strength and agility was unequaled; she seemed to defy gravity and all the other laws of physics. A few of the cast members entered through the backstage door on her fourth loop through the song and immediately had to put their hands over their ears. Zolie was the first to catch the action happening center stage and he stood captivated unable to move until his wife Kara pulled him over to where Mac sat motioning them over. Like a hypnotized mass they sat on the floor watching their leader. Talented acrobats in their own right each could not help but envy the woman who could do what they only dreamed of. Mac leaned back in her chair, earplugs firmly in place, and contentedly watched as her best friend exercised her demons.

Each loop of the music would energize Lexie even more as she intensified her movements, often throwing herself into the air to execute complex flips before catching the material and wrapping up in the silks once more. She worked through two more loops of the song and as it neared the end she rolled all the way up the twenty feet of fabric and drop rolled down. Just as she fell free of the fabric she grabbed the ends, flipping herself up and launched into a triple back summersault with a full layout landing center stage perfectly timed as the last note of music sounded.

Mac was familiar with Lexie's dismount technique and killed the music at its end before it could loop again. The cast sat stunned for a few moments before breaking into cheers and applause. Mac was already halfway across the stage with a towel for her sweat soaked friend. She smiled handing Lexie the towel because she could see the darkness had gone from the ice blue eyes and the heavy mood seemed to have lifted somewhat.

Lexie quickly wrapped the towel around her shoulders as another tall blonde walked over with a horrified look on her face. “Please tell me that's not a new routine you've worked up for me.”

Relieved that her scars had not been noticed Lexie arched one eyebrow as an evil grin crossed lips before she relaxed into a smile. “Just letting off some steam Becks. I've gotta go clean up.”

Before Lexie could take a step Mac prepared to get her boss back to thinking about work. “Hey Lex…” In the blink of an eye Lexie grabbed Mac's head and wrapped her in a tight hug, burying the techs face in her sweat pooling cleavage just long enough to thoroughly soak the woman. Letting go she headed for the back door to take another shower.

A roar of laughter broke out as the cast fell on the floor once again while Mac sputtered and gagged. Her face turned beet red as she yelled to the retreating back. “You are so dead!! And use extra deodorant!!!!”

Sending a death glare in the direction of her unruly pack of hyenas Mac stumbled off to the dressing rooms to get cleaned up, while in the back of the house a shadowed figure witnessed it all and quietly laughed. The cast eventually regained control of themselves and moved to set up the tramps and hoops, having planned on working out a few routines of their own.

The unseen person had entered the house on the second loop of Lexie's workout and took a seat in the darkened last row. Had anyone looked out they might have been able to make out the shadow of a woman. A woman who still sat a little stunned at the exhibition she had just witnessed. She had seen Lexie perform once before, years ago when her dad had taken her to a preview show in Amsterdam , but it had been nothing like this. The only sentiment the woman could express at seeing Lexie's raw power was a whispered “damn”. She sat in the shadows watching the spot Lexie had exited from until a clean and fresh shirted Mac returned to the stage. At which point she stood and moved down the aisle toward the still grumbling stage manager.

Mac had lowered the silks and was about to remove them when she noticed a honey golden blonde in a well-cut dark suit walking towards her. Momentarily stunned by the beautiful creature, she quickly realized this was not someone who should be strolling in on a private rehearsal. Moving to the edge of the stage she looked down into intense green eyes and flashed her most charming smile. “Sorry Miss, but this is a private rehearsal, is there something I can help you with?”

Shifting the strap of her computer bag on her shoulder to a more comfortable position the woman stopped in front of Mac. She had a pleasant smile to go with her formal business manner. “You must be Fiona MacIngish, I'm Greer Diodorus. I've come to see Ms Artem.”

The smile quickly vanished from Mac's face as she heard Devon snicker “Fiona!” behind her. Whipping her head around she growled. “You ever utter that word again and you'll have so many broken bones you won't be able to perform for six months, you got me?”

Devon was built like the incredible hulk and stood eye to eye with Mac. Out muscling her by at least eighty pounds, it only took one look at the murderous intent in Mac's flashing green eyes and he no longer saw any humor in the situation. Fleeing for his life he hurried back to his wife Becks and refused to mention what had made him turn so pale. As soon as he retreated Mac turned the same deadly look on the bewildered woman before her.

“It's Mac, and if you enjoy breathing I'd forget the Fiona if I were you.”

Greer gave a quick nod and quickly apologized. “Sorry, Mac, I didn't mean to offend you.”

“No problem.” Mac smiled back, a gesture not quite reaching her eyes.

“May I see Ms Artem? It really is important.”

“Well, Lex is kind of busy right now.” Mac heard the back door open and close and recognizing the sound of absent footfall knew Lexie had returned. “If you will just go through that door over there and follow the hall to the left it will bring you backstage. I'll see if she has a moment.” Mac leaned over the stage to get a better view of the well shaped backside disappearing through a side door. Just as she was about to lean a little too far over a small strong hand grabbed her shoulder.

“What exactly are you doing?”

“Just enjoying the view.”

Lexie looked in the direction Mac had been staring but could see nothing.

“Oh, she'll be up in a sec.” Mac stood up and took a step back from the edge of the stage.

“Your latest conquest?” Lexie began moving toward the control panel.

“Actually she was looking for you.” Mac grinned as Lexie stopped to give her a questioning arched eyebrow. “Said something about it being really important.” Another eyebrow was arched in her direction. “Smoking hot blonde, but smells like a lawyer.”

Both eyebrows dropped into a frown as the stage door opened and Greer made her way over to where Lexie and Mac stood near the consol.

Nodding to the blonde who she could now see stood a few inches shorter than herself, Mac stepped forward to make the introductions. “Lex, this is Greer Deo…?”

“Diodorus.” Greer smiled and extended her hand.

“Right. Ms Diodorus this is Lex.” Mac looked from one woman to the other, several times.

The moment Lexie's hand touched Greer's she was snapped out of her stunned silence. “Diodorus, your Joseph's daughter.”

Greer appeared slightly breathless as she held onto the smaller hand. “Yes.”

“Your father has spoken of you often.” Lexie said as she pulled her hand away. “Is Joseph here, I wasn't expecting him.”

Greer took a deep breath in order to keep a tight reign on her emotions. “I'm sorry, no he's not. Ms Artem I will be handling your account from now on, I wanted to introduce myself to you and perhaps go over some items with you.”

“Joseph handles my account, no one else and he knows it. What's happened?”

This was the moment Greer had been dreading, having to talk about her father with a complete stranger. “Papa had a stroke last month, he's doing much better now but he will never be able to work again. I would have contacted you earlier, but to be honest I didn't find out about you until I went through his office and found your files in a locked cabinet.”

“I have to see Joseph, Mac I'll be back in two days.” Lexie took off heading for the stage door. Mac waved goodbye as she gave a stunned Greer as sympathetic smile.

From the moment Greer had stepped into the theater nothing was as she expected it to be, least of all Lexie Artem. She had tracked down where The Nightshadows Ensemble would be and traveled all the way from Amsterdam to meet the woman who appeared to be very important to her fathers firm and of whom she had never heard of. Anger set in as she watched the small woman walk away. She had questions and she intended to get some answers. Unaccustomed to being brushed off she gave a quick glare in Mac's direction and stormed off after her newest and most irritating client.

The sun was extremely bright after having been inside the dark theater for so long causing Greer to be momentarily blinded. She fished out her sunglasses from an exterior pocket of her bag and looked around for where Lexie had gone. Two large tractor-trailers and several cars were parked along the tiny back street. Stepping out into the street she looked in both directions but could find no trace of the small woman. Picking a direction Greer began making her way to the end of the block.

Inside her trailer, Lexie quickly changed into a worn pair of jeans and a soft cotton button down blouse. She reached for her favorite boots then thought better of it considering the strip down they made you do at the airports now days. Instead she slipped on a pair of loafers and pulled down a worn leather rucksack form a small closet. Grabbing her cell phone, she hit speed dial and began throwing a change of clothes and a toothbrush into her bag. On the second ring her call was answered and she smiled at the familiar deep voice.

“Why is it you always sound like your having sex?”

“Lexie darling, that's just your wicked mind running away with you again.” The man gave a low sultry laugh. “How are you sweetie? And what can I do for you today?”

“Jules, I have an emergency I need to get Amsterdam today. Can you make it happen?”

Flipping her bag over one shoulder and grabbing her long leather coat Lexie crossed through the control room, grabbed a CD off the console and headed out the door.

Greer had reached the corner where a few cars passed by and was just turning back to try the opposite end when she saw her target step out of one of the trailers and go back inside the theater. Picking up her pace she headed for the backstage door.

Inside Lexie was making her way over to Mac and Devon who were making some adjustments to the neck loop on Becks web. She reached Mac just as Greer entered the building, reaching around and running her hand over Mac's ass she snagged the ever present pen out of her back pocket and began writing the flight information that Jules was giving her on the back of her hand.

It was a frequent occurrence for Lexie to fondle Mac while looking for some tool or writing implement the woman always kept hidden on her person. And Mac always had the same response. “Pervert.”

Lexie's lecherous grin was interrupted by a slightly out of breath and very agitated blonde lawyer. “Ms Artem. If you have a problem with me taking over your case you speak to me about it. I will not have you disturbing my father and upsetting him. He needs his rest; he's very fragile right now. And I do not appreciate being ignored.” Greer took a deep breath and stared daggers at the small woman.

Everyone in the theater had stopped what they were doing and watched the stranger yell at their boss in a way no one ever had before. Lexie quietly thanked Jules for the favor and slid the phone back into her pocket. It had been a long time since she had seen that look in a pair of Diodorus eyes, not since Greer's great grandmother, her name sake in fact. “Greer, I did not mean to ignore you and I certainly didn't mean to upset you. I'm afraid my people skills are some what…”

“Lacking.” Mac supplied for her.

Tossing the pen back at Mac Lexie continued to try and reassure her uninvited guest. “Your father and I are very old friends and he means a great deal to me. I have no intention of upsetting him, I just want, need to see him to know he's alright.”

The anger left Greer as quickly as it had come. She could not remain angry with someone who genuinely seemed to care for her father. “Sorry, I guess I'm a little overprotective of Papa these days.”

“That's good, I'm glad to know there's some one looking out for him.” Lexie smiled and turned to Devon . She tossed him the CD. “Hey Devon give this a listen, see what you can come up with.”

Easily catching the disc he nodded. “Any thoughts of application?”

“Nope, it's all yours, I want you to play with it and see what strikes your fancy.” Lexie gave Mac a wink knowing Devon and Becks would do a great job at choreographing a number. She turned her attention to Greer once again. “I'm afraid I have to get to the airport, I have a plane to catch.”

“Ms Art…”

Holding up one hand Lexie's face became deadly serious. “First rule if you're going to be my representative. My name is Lexie if you actually want me to listen.” And then she broke into a friendly smile.

Greer arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow as she managed to keep a smile from her lips. “And the second rule?”

“I'll let you know should it become necessary. Now I really must be going. How long are you staying in town?”

“I'm flying home tomorrow morning, I really just came to introduce myself.”

“Then perhaps we can have lunch tomorrow.” Lexie smiled and started to head for the door. “We can keep the old man company for a little while, together.” Giving a wave over her shoulder she exited the building to find a cab.

Greer turned to Mac in confused wonder. “Is she always such a…”

“Smartass?” Mac interrupted, “Bullheaded imp? Annoying pipsqueak?”

“Force of nature.” Greer smiled as she could see Mac was just kidding.

“That? Nah, you should see her when she really gets her knickers in a knot.”



It was nearly nine in the evening when Lexie landed at Schiphol in Amsterdam . Deciding it was too late for an unannounced visit she grabbed a taxi and headed across town to the Jordaan district. The Jordaan neighborhood had been created in the seventeenth century for the poor and low income, a slum that once housed a struggling artist by the name of Rembrandt. Lexie bought some of the buildings in the early eighteenth century from a man who simply wanted to get out of a bad investment. The Jordaan provided a great place for Lexie to disappear when she needed to. Nobody asked questions and no one wanted to know you. The years had seen a great many changes to the neighborhood, yet still artists were drawn to it. Amsterdam had become one of Lexie's many homes. She never stayed in one place for very long, but Amsterdam along with Venice held a place in her heart too dear to completely walk away from.

Her buildings were on Bloemstraat on one of the many canals. They had undergone extensive renovations over the years and were now home to a rehearsal studio and living quarters for the company. The top floor served as a private living quarters and storage facility for Lexie. It was one of the few places she felt comfortable calling home even if she spent very few days out of the year there.

It was well after ten by the time the taxi dropped her off and Lexie was hungry. After dropping her bag inside the studio she made her way down the street to a little jazz pub she liked to relax in. The soothing sounds of a sultry female voice filled the air as she found a table in a dark corner and ordered something to eat. It had been a long time since Lexie had just relaxed and enjoyed an evening of good music, good food and good wine. The small stage was just large enough for the jazz trio and singer, but instead of feeling cramped it felt intimate. She let the atmosphere and music wrap around her like a soft blanket. Eventually her mind would find its way back to the reason for her impromptu visit, but for a short while she basked in thinking about nothing.

Two hours passed before Lexie managed to drag herself away from the comfort of the pub. She walked along the canal back to her house and paused several times to look around and take in the quiet of her neighborhood and the soft sound of the occasional wave slapping against the few moored boats below, remembering that it had not always been like this. She could not help wondering how long it would stay this way and when the next big change would come.

The building, which was actually three buildings, each five stories tall, including a full attic looked no different from all the other buildings on this street. The three row houses had been completely rebuilt to create one very large work space/home. Part of the first and second floors had been opened up into one continous space to accommodate all the equipment needed for aerial and acrobatic rehearsals. The rear of the first floor also held a small kitchenette for the cast as well as several comfortably worn sofas and chairs where they could relax and just hang out during rehearsals. The back opened out onto a beautifully well kept courtyard. While the second and third floor housed the cast, a proper kitchen, and several rooms for equipment, a music room as well as Mac's computer room and her private rooms. Each of Lexie's homes had a private suite for Mac. The fourth floor was Lexie's private rooms: a small kitchen, which was rarely used; a large study that was crammed floor to ceiling with books and artifacts and a large wooden desk that was so old Lexie could not remember how long it had been in her possession; a comfortable lounge held a well worn leather sofa and chairs and a small television in one corner; the rear of the floor of one building was taken up by a bathroom with a large claw foot tub and step in shower. A cozy bedroom that had about as many books in it as the study and a huge four-posted bed in the very center completed the living space. There were several locked storage rooms, and a room just across from the bedroom had been converted into a vault, which contained a small arsenal of weaponry, always locked and on its own security system. The attic was a fully finished space that Lexie used as storage for those items that were for her eyes only.

Sparing only a brief glance at the studio to make sure everything was as it should be, Lexie headed for the stairs and a hot bath that called to her. Change was actually a constant in Lexie's life and no matter how many times the people and places shifted she always felt a loss with each change. Tomorrow would bring about another of those changes. She would see Joseph and make sure he was being well cared for then begin the transition of handing her affairs over to his daughter Greer, just as she had done some forty years ago when Salvo, Joseph's father, had died. Her last thought as she climbed under the soft comforter and snuggled deep into a pile of down pillows, was of a tall honey blonde with piercing green eyes.



Soft morning light caressed the bed coaxing Lexie awake. She tried not to move, wanting to enjoy the peace and quiet for a few moments longer, but eventually the desire to brush her teeth won out and Lexie made her way to the bathroom to get her day started.

It was still early when Lexie stepped out her front door and headed to a small café in Rembrandtplein Square . Walking through the door was the equivalent of an olfactory orgasm. The aroma of fresh baked bread, pastries and muffins blended with rich coffee and brought an unsolicited moan from Lexie's throat. She settled at a small table next to the large window so she could watch people as they went about their morning. Lexie could not resist ordering a breakfast of two pastries, a muffin and a bowl of fruit along with a strong cup of coffee. Before realizing it she had scoffed down everything in front of her. She picked up her to-go order and headed for Vondelpark. The sun was shining and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day so she decided to walk to Joseph's. It was a bit of a walk, but Lexie never seemed to notice the distance and she loved the park.

A cart selling flowers was always sitting on the path she chose, or perhaps she chose this path because of the cart. She mulled this over while stopping to pick up her usual bouquet. As she neared the other side of the park Joseph's house came into view. It stood elegantly modest along side all the other houses lined neatly in a row. Picking up her pace she quickly exited the park and crossed the street. She leapt up all four steps and landed in front of the door to ring the bell. Shortly a round-faced woman answered the door, she took one look at Lexie and gave her a scowl. “Oh, so you're finally showing up are you?”

Lexie had the decency to look embarrassed. “Mrs. Stark you know I can't stay away from you for long.” She said in perfect Dutch. She gave the older woman a shy smile and produced the bouquet from behind her back.

“You've been gone a while, it'll be taking more than me favorite flowers.”

As her smile grew larger Lexie produced from behind her the bag of pastries and bread and handed them over. Mrs. Stark knew the routine well and took the bag and flowers, but held her stern face. “Get in here girl before I have to box your ears.”

Lexie laughed as she walked inside, the familiarity of the place giving her a sense of comfort. “Mrs. Stark you know I love you.”

Closing the door the older woman gave Lexie a tight hug. Her voice almost left her and she was glad her mouth was next to the small ear. “It's been difficult times.”

Lexie pulled back to look into watery blue eyes. “I'm sorry I'm so late, but I just found out about it, I should have been keeping in touch more. How's he doing?”

Mrs. Stark was a strong woman, both physically and mentally, but Joseph's condition had hit her hard. She had been working for the Diodorus household since Greer was a toddler, they were her only family now and by extension Lexie had become a part of that family. “He's getting better, some days are good, some, not so much.” She led them through the house to the kitchen and sat her package on the counter. “You go see him now girl. It will do him a world of good. He's resting in the lounge upstairs. I'll bring you a cup of tea.” Turning to the sink she placed the flowers beside it then walked over to a cabinet to get a vase.

Lexie had been dismissed; she stood for only a moment watching the woman. Mrs. Stark was a good soul and she always enjoyed being around the lively woman. Today that spark of life seemed a little dim. She understood better than most what it was like to have to face the inevitable loss of someone you love. Quietly she left the kitchen and made her way upstairs.

The lounge was a comfortable room with overstuffed chairs and a sofa that sagged a little at one end where Joseph liked to sit and watch television. The soft leather chaise had been moved closer to the windows that looked out over the park and on it wrapped in a down comforter lay a very frail looking man. It occurred to Lexie that for the first time Joseph looked his age, in fact he looked considerably older. Before she could get halfway in the room dull brown eyes turned her way. Lexie smiled and shook her head. She grabbed a chair from the chess table in one corner and moved to sit beside her old friend.

“Joseph. I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner.” The left side of his face drooped down as well as his shoulder and a useless hand sat in his lap. He was trying to speak, but indistinguishable noises were all that came out. “It's okay, everything's going to be okay. I'm going to make sure of it.” She could see he was trying to protest. “Joseph you have taken care of me for a long time, now it's my turn to take care of you. Greer needs her papa around for a while longer.” A spark lit the brown eyes for just a moment. “Greer. That's right; Greer's the one who found me. That's quite a kid you've got there. She reminds me of her great grandmother. She has your intelligence, Annah's beauty and Greer's spirit.” He tried to smile although it came out more as a grimace. Nonetheless Lexie could see the pride Joseph always had when talking about his daughter. “I have no doubt your firm is in safe hands.” She saw the cloud pass over his features. “It's time to pass the baton old friend and we will ease her into this slowly, you and me together. This isn't the end, just a change. And that's what life is all about, change and renewal.”

Joseph sat for a few moments searching blue eyes that he had know almost his entire life and he found comfort there. He no longer felt alone and trapped in an almost useless body. With his good arm he reached out to take Lexie's hand and was immediately filled with a sense of peace. It frustrated him not to be able to talk. There were so many things he wanted to say.

A bird began chirping outside the window on the top branch of a tree that lined the street. Lexie brushed the strands of hair back that had fallen across Joseph's forehead. “Greer is going to be here in a few hours so why don't you fill me in on how you are really doing and what you need.” He gave her a lopsided frown. “Your eyes speak volumes Joseph, trust me, it's no parlor trick and I can't read minds, but I am very good at reading people.” She smiled and gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “Of course I'll tell you everything that's been going on. Tit for tat as always.”

Three hours later they were still sitting there holding hands when Greer walked in.

“Papa, I'm back.” Greer announced as she walked into the room. She paused for a moment at the sight of Lexie sitting holding her father's hand. Continuing her stride forward, Greer greeted her father with a kiss on the cheek. “How are you doing Papa? You look tired.”

Lexie smiled at Joseph then moved away so his daughter could fuss with his comforter. Joseph squirmed at being fussed over. “He's fine Greer, although I think he could probably use a little rest.” She winked at him and he smiled back. “Why don't I take you to lunch, it will give your father a chance to rest and we can discuss what you are going to do with my account.”

The sound of china rattling on a tray could be heard a moment before Mrs. Stark walked in with tea and a light snack. “Greer stop fussing over your papa and go feed this little bit of a thing. Maybe if she eats something one day she'll grow.”

Greer could not help but smile at the older woman's ease at handling the oh-so powerful and in control Lexie Artem. She quickly turned and retrieved a small table to place beside her father. Lexie gave the housekeeper her most intimidating scowl.

Ignoring both girls Mrs. Stark placed her tray on the table. “Both of you, out of here. Maybe we can get a little peace and quiet then.” She pulled up the chair Lexie had been sitting in and prepared to feed Joseph his mid-day tea.

Lexie could now tower over the seated woman. “One day old lady.” She lovingly teased and gave Mrs. Stark a quick kiss on the cheek. Shooting Joseph a bright smile she motioned for Greer to precede her from the room.

Placing a gentle kiss on top of his head, Greer whispered, “I'll be back soon Papa.” then walked out the room. Lexie followed her down stairs without a word. As they reached the main hallway Greer turned abruptly almost causing Lexie to run into her. “Okay, what's going on? You seem very comfortable here, who are you and if you know my family so well, why have I never met you before.”

“Wow, you didn't even take a breath.” Lexie stared up at fiery green eyes and quirked a smile in their direction, she held up one finger. “I'm taking you to lunch.” Another finger joined the first. “This house has always been a place of comfort to me.” A third finger went up. “I am an old friend of your fathers and your biggest client.” A fourth finger went up. “We have met before, but it was a long time ago and you just don't remember. Now if there are no further questions I thought we would go over to one of the restaurants in the park. Are you ready?” Without waiting for a reply Lexie turned and headed out the front door.

A light breeze from the open door seemed to unglue Greer from the spot she was standing in gazing after the smaller woman walking away from her. Grabbing her purse from atop her luggage she had discarded earlier, Greer quickly moved to catch up with Lexie who waited on the sidewalk. “Anyone ever tell you you're kind of bossy.”

“Kind of? Guess I'll have to work on that.”

“So where are we going?”

“It's a lovely day, how about one of the outdoor cafés?”

“Well since you seem to know your way around so well, lead on.”

The conversation died as they walked into the park. Both seemed caught up in her own enjoyment of the bright sunny day. The sun was warm and a light breeze played with the treetops. People were out everywhere with blankets and brown bag lunches taking advantage of such a beautiful day. A fifteen minute walk brought them to Vondeltuin and soon they were seated at a small table outside.

Somewhere near by the soft sounds of an acoustical guitar could be heard. The beautiful music lulled Lexie for a moment until the waiter came by to take their order. One chicken salad and one lentil burger ordered and the awkward silence returned to the table. Now that they were alone neither seemed to know where to start. Finally Greer's questioning nature came to the rescue. She did not seem to notice that since arriving at the house they had been speaking Dutch where as at the theatre they had spoken English. Without thinking about it she continued on in her native tongue.

“Lentil burger? What are you a vegetarian?”

“The animals you eat all eat plants and grains, I'm just eliminating the middle man. You are what you eat.”

“So you're a small flat tasteless bean.”

A smile crept across Lexie's face. “Pretty much.”

Greer considered the petite woman in front of her. “I'm not buying it. You may be small, but you explode. When you are on a stage, you explode.”

“You ought to see me in a forest.” Lexie mumbled into her glass of water before taking a sip.

“I'm sorry?”


Just in time the waiter appeared with their food and placed it on the table. Once again Lexie found herself caught in those bright green eyes. She felt a tightness in her chest and quickly looked away taking a bite of her burger. Choking down the food she took a deep breath and resolved to regain control of herself.

“Greer, your father is going to need a lot of help, more than you and Mrs. Stark can provide.”

Immediately on the defensive Greer put her fork down. “He has a nurse come by once a day to check on him.”

Lexie put her hands up to try and stem any outburst. “I know you are doing everything you can, but he needs a physical therapist, speech therapist and a full time nurse. Look you are trying to run the firm for Joseph. You can't devote yourself to him full time as well.”

“Mrs. Stark and I have managed just fine so far.”

“I know you have, but he needs more attention than you can give. And quite frankly he needs someone who can be tough with him. Your father has looked out for me for a long time now. I would like to return the favor. I want to arrange for a nurse and therapist and any equipment they might need. Take it out of the Venice account. I will leave the logistics of it up to you. Anything he needs you have open access to the account.”

Greer opened her mouth to ask just who this person thought she was and what right she had to insinuate herself into their family. She quickly closed it as something else the woman had said caught her attention. “The Venice account? What Venice account?”

There seemed to be a subtle shift in the air as Greer's anger disappeared. “Greer, how familiar are you with my account? Exactly what brought you to me?”

“I've read your file. You own a production company and studio here in Amsterdam . And you have some good investments. I didn't see anything on Venice though.”

“So you've read the files that were in his desk. Kept in a locked drawer, bottom left if I'm not mistaken.”

“That's right.”

“When we get back I'll show you where the rest are kept. And I can give you the password to access my accounts on his computer.”

Greer sat speechless this was very mysterious even for her father. “I don't understand, what's with all the secrecy?”

“I guard my privacy very closely and your father respects that. I hope you can as well. Greer, I am your firms' largest client. I only deal with Joseph, and now you. I'll go over everything with you eventually, it's really not that difficult, I just need you to oversee things for me.” Lexie gave a brief smile then focused back on her food.

Greer had more questions now than when she originally found the hidden file. Only instead of getting answers she was presented with even more questions to the greater mystery that was Lexie Artem. Sensing Lexie's desire to change topics she began asking about the production company and the shows they performed. She also let it slip that she had seen Lexie perform a few years before and the memory of that performance was still very clear in her mind.

“My father took me to see Nato Del Vento here in Amsterdam , a couple of years ago. It took my breath away.”

“I remember.”

“You remember? But we've never met.”

“I gave your father the tickets. You were coming home that weekend and he wanted to do something special with you. I'm glad you liked it.”

“I did, it was a very special night. I've seen Cirque before, but I've never seen anything like what you do on stage. You, you defy gravity.”

“It's all an illusion.”

“And yesterday morning? I saw you do things that made your own performers turn a little pale.”

Lexie gave a shy smile. “I work very hard to make the difficult look easy, it's what keeps the customers coming in.”

“And you are very good at it. I have never seen anything as beautiful as the way you move on stage.”

Lexie conceded the compliment with a slight blush as she munched on a carrot stick.

Their conversation became easy as it turned to lighter topics. Lexie found herself becoming more and more comfortable with Greer. She noticed every movement Greer made, her bright smile and sparkling eyes, the way her nose crinkled when she laughed. Their talk centered around performing and living abroad since it was something they both had in common. Greer could easily talk about dance and martial arts since she had taken classes in both since she was a child and had been in more dance recitals and competitions than she could remember. Her father had suggested the martial arts classes, which she quickly fell in love with. Unknown to Greer, they had actually been Lexie's idea. It was Greer's mother who insisted on balancing out her daughters' physical activity with dance.

Lexie had lived all over the world, but only spoke of the places her company performed to avoid too many questions. Greer had gone to prep school in England , gotten an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a graduate degree from Oxford . Both women were very familiar with life away from home, it was another thing they had in common. However, while Lexie had friends all over the place, Greer left her only friends behind when she had to suddenly move home after Joseph's stroke. And for the first time since leaving her best friend Harry back in England , Greer felt she had found someone she could have a close friendship with.

They had been enjoying themselves so much that neither noticed when the waiter removed their empty plates. Lexie felt comfortable and found talking with Greer to be the easiest and most natural thing in the world. She knew from the moment she had met the gorgeous blonde that something indefinable had captured her attention, and it was not just because she was attracted to her physically. Very rarely did Lexie find herself immediately at ease with someone. In fact she had not felt this level of interest in someone in almost four hundred years. And that thought was like a glass of cold water to the face. She could not allow herself to become attracted to Greer, that was one joy of life Lexie no longer allowed herself.

A light breeze was blowing the scent of newly awakened flowers through the air. The same air that played with Greer's long hair making the woman appear younger than she was. She was telling a story about her heroic efforts to rescue a little boy's puppy from underneath a house where it had gotten stuck. She had been on her way to a meeting and ended up covered in mud with no time to change. Her client's first impression of her was not exactly confident. Greer laughed at the memory of that meeting and the sound of that light laughter filled Lexie with warmth, and reality. Lexie continued to smile at the story, but the smile no longer reached her eyes.

Looking around and seeing the crowd had thinned somewhat Lexie suggested they head back to the house to check on Joseph. She paid the bill, waving off Greer's offer of money for her share. Soon they were walking across the park again in an uncomfortable silence.

As they followed the path around a large fountain Greer wondered what had happened to cause Lexie to shift back into her private mysterious persona. They had been getting along splendidly, but she could have sworn she saw the moment Lexie began pulling back. Greer did not believe in love at first sight, but there was defiantly something about this woman that was more than instant attraction. Greer found herself completely intrigued by Lexie, the fact that in her eyes Lexie was the most beautiful woman Greer had ever seen made it all the better. The sight of the small compact perfectly toned body that moved with such lithe precision and the shoulder length dark reddish brown hair that by contrast was out of control had caught Greer's attention right away and set her stomach a flutter. The arrogant person she thought she had met was turning out to be simply a confident, intelligent and witty woman whom she would like to get to know much better. She did not think she had said something to offend the petite woman, but she definitely felt it when Lexie had retreated into herself. Greer was interested now more than ever. Despite her rules about never getting involved with a client, she found herself deeply attracted to Lexie.



Inside the house Mrs. Stark had not allowed ‘the girls' to disturb Joseph's nap. She told them to find something else to do or go back out for a walk. Lexie took the opportunity to update her new lawyer on her newest responsibility.

Greer allowed Lexie to lead her to her father's home office and watched as the smaller woman moved about with a comfortable knowledge of the space. Lexie retrieved a single key from the underside of the right upper drawer of Joseph's desk and moved to the wooden file cabinets that lined a portion of the wall. She unlocked the only cabinet Greer had not been able to get into. There were four drawers packed with files, all of them relating to Lexie's holdings and interests. Greer was taken aback that such a young woman would have so many investments. Lexie gave her a brief run down on what was in the files and which required attention and which simply took care of themselves. When she was finished Greer just sat there with a shocked expression.

Lexie had seen that same expression on Joseph's face some forty years ago. “Bit more than you were expecting?” Lexie smiled as Greer nodded at her. “Joseph calls me a pack rat, he's always trying to get me to scale down a little. I suppose he's right, but how do I chose one foundation over another or a children's hospital over a retirement home. And my personal investments are necessary to keep all the rest running. A nature preserve may not seem like much to you, but to its inhabitants it's the world. To me it is all necessary.”

The files were numerous and would take a week to go through, but Greer was trying to take in just whom this person was and how someone so young could accumulate such a vast amount of wealth. “I'm sorry, this is a lot to take in.” She looked at the glacial blue eyes for a moment. “You must come from a very wealthy family?” Lexie raised an eyebrow at her. “Sorry, it's just your so young and, and you run a traveling show.”

A second eyebrow lifted to join the first then gave way to a smirk. “No I do not come from a wealthy family or at least not in the way you think. I earned everything I have and now I am able to do what makes me happiest.”

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…”

“It's okay.” Lexie waved off her apology. “Besides, I'm not as young as you think.” She gave Greer a wink then closed and locked the cabinet and returned the key to the underside of the drawer. She sat down and booted up Joseph's computer while pulling a set of keys out of the center drawer and tossed them to the blonde. “Keys to my place here. You'll have need to get into it at times also the keys to the other properties are there. Joseph never wanted to keep all the keys here, I never understood that, but you can do what ever you like.” Turning to the screen Lexie showed Greer how to access her information. Once she was confident that Greer was comfortable with everything they went upstairs to visit Joseph and tell him of his newly imposed health care regime.

Two hours passed while Joseph guided Lexie through what Greer needed to attend to first and what she could take her time to get to know. Greer watched, as her father seemed to communicate with little effort everything he needed to Lexie. A brief pang of jealousy flashed through Greer at Lexie's apparent ease at understanding Joseph. She had been working so hard with him for the last month with very frustrating results. She finally conceded to herself that perhaps the extra help was just what they both needed.

Greer watched Lexie for a moment as the smaller woman gently spoke with her father to assure him everything would be all right. Once more she felt a strong pull towards the mysterious person who would apparently become a large part of her life. As she took a deep breath to calm the fluttering in her stomach a strange electronic version of The Baby Elephant Walk sounded from Lexie's back pocket.

Lexie grabbed her phone as soon as she heard Mac's tone. She quickly read the text message. Reports of strange attacks were coming out of Paris . Lexie briefly scanned the reports that Mac had forwarded then punched one on her speed dial. On the second ring Mac answered. “How long ago did this come in?”

“About ten minutes ago, I thought you would want to know.”

“Thanks Mac, I'll take the first train down in the morning, check it out and then head back.”

“Try to stay in one piece this time.”

“Yes mother.” Lexie hung up and slid the phone back into her pocket. She gave Joseph a sad smile. “I'm afraid I have to go, something's come up and I have to get back. I'm going to be checking up on you and I better not hear that you are giving your new nurses a hard time.” She bent over to give him a gentle hug and whispered in his ear. “Take care of yourself old friend and don't worry, she's going to be fine.”

Greer followed Lexie downstairs to see her out. At the door Lexie held out her hand. “Greer, it's been a pleasure.” She was about to say more when Greer took her hand in a firm grip. A spark could almost be seen as an electrical current ran through both their bodies leaving neither one with the ability to speak or let go. Moments passed as blue eyes stared up into green. Finally Lexie seemed to shake herself out of it and released the soft hand she was still holding. “I, I'll be talking to you soon.”

The small woman turned to leave, but was stopped by a hand on her arm. Greer was not willing to let the evening end and she desperately wanted more time with Lexie. She could not explain it, but just knew she was not ready to say good-bye yet. “Wait at least let me drive you home. I mean you need to show me where this place is in case I have to get in there sometime.”

The place where Greer's hand rested on Lexie's arm seemed to burn and she could feel the imprint of each finger. So against her better judgment she agreed and waited while the blonde retrieved her keys. Soon they were on their way across town. The traffic crawled along to make the quiet drive even longer. Lexie could feel the tension in the small car as if it were a physical thing wrapping around her. She dared not look over at the beautiful woman by her side. What ever it was that happened back at the house Lexie was determined to let it go and never think of it again.



The distance across to the Jordaan was not that far by car, but traffic was heavy all across town. Greer tried to concentrate on the road, but her mind would not let go of what she had felt when she touched Lexie's hand. Every nerve in her body seemed to come alive, but not in a bad way. She had never experienced anything like it before and wondered if the other woman had felt anything. At the moment it was all she could do to keep her hands on the wheel and not reach over to touch the smooth skin. Her fingers itched for that tingling feeling once more.

They parked along the canal and walked the block and a half to Lexie's building. The sun had dipped below the skyline and twilight was casting soft shadows across the water. People milled about on their way to somewhere or from somewhere while several couples strolled across the bridges hand in hand oblivious to all around them. Lexie noticed Greer watching a few of them with a wistful smile on her face. Just as she was about to look away those soft green eyes were turned on her. Lexie quickly looked straight ahead.

“It's just here.” Lexie said as she cleared her throat and unlocked the door letting Greer into her home.

Entering into the small foyer, Greer tried to hold back the knowing smile that wanted to spread across her lips. She was having an effect on Lexie, she was sure of it by the looks she had caught the woman stealing and the nervous way she was acting. It had been a while since Greer had felt attracted to another woman and what she was feeling for Lexie was almost overwhelming.

They exited the foyer into the main room while Lexie flipped on the lights. Greer stopped dead in her tracks and her mouth fell open as she looked around at the studio.

“Holy shit!” Greer finally found her voice. She looked back over her shoulder then into the room again before giving Lexie a very puzzled face. “What the….?”

“It's actually three buildings I had converted into one. I needed a lot of space and already owned these so, I just had it opened up and sound proofed the entire place so not to disturbed the neighbors.” Lexie began walking across the expanse of the room to the back stairs. “This is just the rehearsal space, come on, I'll show you the rest of the place.”

“You rehearse your shows here?”

“Rehearse, write, put them together. This is one of my rehearsal studios, there's also one across town and in Edinburgh and Venice .”

“And you live here?”


“Wow, what a fun place to live. Maybe sometime you'll let me play with your toys.”

Lexie picked up on the suggestive tone of Greer's words. “They're not toys, but if you are interested just let me know, Becks and Devon are great teachers and they could have you flying from the rafters in no time.” She smiled at the deflated look of the blonde. “Come on, it's a big place and there's a lot to see.” She turned and headed up the back stairs knowing Greer would follow.

The tour lasted about twenty minutes and Greer was shown every room except the attic and the vault. Lexie familiarized the younger woman with her study, showing her only what was needed to run Lexie's business affairs. Greer was beginning to get an idea of just how big Lexie's interests were and she looked at the woman with a whole new respect and even greater curiosity.

After going over all the necessary items, Greer still had a million questions. And she was reluctant to leave, not knowing when she would see Lexie again. So they moved to the worn leather sofa in the living room and Lexie poured them some wine, she too was reluctant to let the evening end, even though her brain was telling her otherwise. Lexie tried to keep the conversation on business, but Greer was more interested in the woman sitting on the opposite end of the sofa from her.

“It really is amazing all that you have accomplished at such a young age.”

“I'm not that young.”

Greer sipped her wine and peered at Lexie over the rim of her glass. “Your not that old either.”

“Let's just say I had a lot of expectations placed on me.” Lexie took a deep drink of her wine.

“From your family?” Greer turned on the cushions to face the small woman and get more comfortable. “Tell me about them, tell me about your family.” She cradled her glass in her lap.

“What's to tell? They're family just like any other.” Lexie still sat with both feet on the floor and seemed to be looking for something in her wine glass.

“Well, what are they like? Are your parents still alive?” Lexie nodded her head without looking up. “So what does your father do?”

Lexie looked across the room to the window wishing she could see the stars. “I don't have a father.” She drained the last of her wine then began twirling the glass between her fingers by its stem. She took a deep breath then turned to look Greer in the eye. “I have two mothers. No father, no siblings.”

Greer smiled and draped an arm over the back of the sofa. “Wow, a real modern family.”

Lexie let out a small laugh. “You have no idea.” She never spoke to anyone about her family, it was all too complicated and so much of her life was kept in secret. It weighted heavy on Lexie sometimes, but it was a weight she was use to carrying.

Lexie seemed to lose herself in thought and Greer moved closer to place a hand on the small shoulder. “So tell me about your moms.”

Heat seared through her shirt where Greer's hand lay and Lexie could feel her heart rate accelerate. Slowly she leaned forward placing her glass on the small table subtly removing the soft inferno from her shoulder. She stood and moved a few paces away.

“It's getting kind of late Greer and I have to catch a train in the morning.”

Greer pulled her hand back into her lap knowing she had pushed a little too far. “Train? I thought you flew in.”

“I did, but I have something I need to check into in Paris on my way back. And I have to get back to my company, I've been missing from the show for too long now.”

Rising from the sofa Greer reluctantly followed Lexie out of the apartment. “This tour is almost over right?”

“Three more weeks then it starts all over again.” She stepped out into the studio and took a moment to look around remembering the thrill of putting a new show together.

It was after midnight and the expansive room was eerily quiet. Greer moved close to Lexie and looked down at the small woman lost in thought. She only stood a head taller and was of a slender build herself, but compared to the petite compactness of the woman next to her she felt like a towering giant. She watched, as intense eyes seem to go from their startling blue to a soft grey. Greer took in a sharp deep breath, not realizing she had actually stopped breathing while watching Lexie.

The sound pulled Lexie back to the present and her eyes were once again a sparking blue. She felt the warmth of the body next to her and smiled up into wondrous green eyes and the most beautiful face she had ever seen. That thought slammed her mind back to reality and she moved across the floor toward the front door.

“We'll be back at the end of the tour to wrap the show, then everyone gets a break while Mac and I prep for the new show.” Reaching the entryway she looked back at a slowly moving Greer. “Auditions were two months ago, so the new cast members join us here, we rehearse, then on the road again.”

“That sounds exhausting. When do you get a break?” Greer asked as she joined a Lexie that had put away all signs of emotion back in its hidden compartment.

“I'm on break now. I run a business here Greer, I'm not looking for down time, I can have that in retirement.”

One eyebrow pitched high above smiling eyes as a smile quirked the soft pink lips. “I don't think you actually believe in retirement.”

Lexie needed to get back on track and Greer was a definite distraction. “You can call me anytime you have questions and I will see you when we get back. You don't have to worry about the warehouse here, Leander takes care of it and he's very good at his job. I'd like to set up a meeting with you and Joseph just to make sure things are transitioning smoothly, so I'll call you when we are heading back.”

Greer knew a dismissal when she heard one and was a little stung by it, but as she was discovering there were many many layers to Lexie Artem and she looked forward to discovering each one. “I'll be in touch, and I look forward to your return.”

Locking the door after Greer's departure Lexie headed upstairs for a long cold shower. Putting the tall blonde out of her mind in order to concentrate on what she would find in Paris the next day.



Overburdened shoppers and carefree couples crowded the street along the Champs Elysees . The small figure clad entirely in black covered by a long black leather coat easily maneuvered among the crowds without so much as a second glance from the passers by. Lexie was very effective at not drawing attention to herself, it was a gift she inherited from her mother. Before slipping onto a side street she purchased a baguette and some hard cheese from a sidewalk café. Savoring the hardy and delectable tastes she turned south and made her way to the river. The walk afforded her the time to eat her meal and consider her next move. Once at the Seine, Lexie moved away from the heavily tourist areas, working her way along the waters edge until arriving under an old bridge, quietly she slipped into an ancient door that led to an even older passage way. There was little to no light to bounce off the milk grey stone walls, but that was never a problem for Lexie. The air smelled like the pollution of the river, damp, rot and the headiness of the earth. The deeper she went the less she could smell the river and the stronger the earth and rot smell became. Occasionally rock gave way to brick that was old and crumbling and packed earth so hard it felt like stone.

She could feel things watching her; small things that liked to scurry and hide. Occasionally she would feel more human like eyes on her. Her step never faltered nor did her pace alter. They were more afraid of her then she would ever be of them. Forty minutes through the catacombs brought her to a large dimly lit cavern in which a few bodies were lounging, reading or engaged in conversation, all watched her move to the center of the space. She stopped and looked around, dismissing each as unimportant until her eyes fell upon a dark alcove. Taking a few steps closer she flashed dark grey eyes at a male who dared to try and intercept her. He quickly stepped back, unsure of exactly what he should be doing.

Standing before the darkened space she peered into the darkness as raised an eyebrow. “Marcus, we need to talk.”

Marcus was a handsome tall man with long dark hair that was always pulled back in a ponytail. He stepped from the darkness and towered above her. Lexie looked up into his dark eyes as a small smile crept from one side of her lips. “I had a feeling you would be paying me a visit.” He purred down at her in an old French dialect.

Lexie could speak almost any language, most of the time she spoke English, as that was the language her international cast was most comfortable with, but she could slip into any language and speak it like a native. French was one of her favorites, especially when talking with one of her oldest friends who just happened to be a gorgeous vampyre.

“Where in the world do you still find poet shirts?” Marcus laughed, a deep and sensuous sound that rumbled in Lexie's chest. “Got a minute?” She asked not wanting him to get too distracted.

Marcus raised a graceful hand to motion behind her then led them out of the cavern to a more brightly lit tunnel. Here the smell of earth was replaced with the smell of burning wax as several large candelabras lined the walls around them. A set of stone stairs took them up to a heavy iron door, which opened into a small mudroom. A hallway led up to a dimly lit parlor and they entered into the basement of Marcus' house. He moved over to a Louie XV settee and took a seat waving to a matching chair across from him. When Lexie took her seat he sat back and relaxed.

“I've been expecting you. Where trouble goes, little Lexie follows.” He smiled to show he meant no malice.

“I heard something is feeding on people around here. You want to tell me what's going on, there are a lot of new faces out there. Is someone not understanding the concept of our little agreement?”

“Poor Lexie, so distrusting.” Marcus watched his old friend carefully. She looked tired to him. “New faces to you perhaps, these young ones, when they come of age they always seem to find their way to the city and eventually to me. That is if they wish to live. I still oversee this city and my rules are strictly enforced. What you are looking for is not here, nor is it vampyre. I have lost a few of my own to this menace.”

Lexie listened to the emotion in Marcus' voice. Whatever was attacking the population of Paris had one of the oldest vampires around nervous. “What can you tell me?”

Marcus closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. Help had arrived at last. He had tried to make a stand against the new enemy, but lost several good people in the attempt. “It started around the old city cemetery. The attacks are at night, and are moving further and further out from the cemetery. They remind me of something I read about in a book a long time ago. A fairy tale, but you and I know what truth lies in fairy tales.”

A sense of dread and foreboding came over Lexie. She was getting the same tingling on the back of her neck as when she saw the photos of the jackal attacks. Patiently she waited for him to continue.

“White flowing gown, wailing cries that pierce the night,” Marcus stared off into the nothingness seeing the apparition once again. “The call of the Banshee can haunt a man's soul.”

“A Banshee? Marcus the Banshee is the foreteller of death, it's not so unusual for people to die around one.”

He gave Lexie a serious look. “Foretellers yes, but not the executioner, and not like this. The bodies are left like dried husks, all blood drained. That is not the work of a Banshee.”

Lexie went over everything she knew about the Banshee, if in fact that was what is. A Banshee is tied to a particular clan, it announces death and escorts the soul to the underworld. The memory of the jackal kept reappearing, another out of place creature of the underworld. She stood and moved behind her chair. “Any particular part of the cemetery I need to look?”

“Once you enter the grounds it will find you. I will take you tonight.”

“No, I go alone.” He looked like he was about to argue. “This is my job Marcus, take care of your people, I can handle it.”

“I have no doubt you can my little one.”

Lexie smiled and crossed to a small table that held a flickering candle. “So, where's Paulie?”

Without giving anything away Marcus just watched Lexie play with the candle's flame. After a moment when she had received no reply she arched an eyebrow in his direction. Slowly he shook his head from side to side. “You certainly know how to cause trouble.”

“I don't know what you mean.” Lexie sniffed.

“Of course not, Paulie was a mess after the last time you were here and I had to deal with the aftermath.”

“You have such a flair for the melodramatic Marcus.”

He stood and moved to her side. “I mean it Lexie, you push buttons no one else can, try and tread a bit more lightly this time.” Marcus laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze before turning and walking out the same way they had come in. “Upstairs, probably in the office.” And without a sound he was gone.

Marcus owned a beautiful mansion in the Belleville district and the catacombs beneath it allowed him quick access to anywhere in the city. He and Paulie had lived here for the last two hundred years and his seethe used it as a headquarters. Paulie and Marcus were two of Lexie's oldest friends. The two were as different as night and day and were fiercely loyal to one another. Marcus enjoyed a peaceful life running his clinic and one of the largest independent blood banks in Paris . Paulie was a doctor at the clinic who liked excitement and a bit of mischief. A grin spread across Lexie's face as she remembered the many times the two of them had spent raining havoc on each other. All in good natured fun, but the two of them together did have a tendency to get into trouble. Making her way out a door on the opposite side of the room Lexie took the stairs two at a time up to the ground floor. She slowed her pace as she casually strolled through Marcus's grand house making her way to Paulie's office.

The office was crowded with books and papers on every surface. A large dark wooden desk occupied one side of the room and could barely be seen underneath the mountain of paperwork. Bookshelves lined all the walls and were crammed with books, journals, notebooks, files, art, antique medical instruments and any number of odd misplaced items from another time. The only window in the room had its thick heavy curtains drawn tight. Three mismatched chairs sat about a round table in the middle of the room. Research materials were in organized stacks on the tabletop in stark contrast to the rest of the room. A small overstuffed sofa took up the remaining floor space. And lying on the sofa facing away from the door was a small figure immersed in a journal. One leg was bent at the knee with a small foot planted firmly on the seat with the other leg draped over it, that foot tapping out some unheard melody in the air.

Lexie stood in the doorway admiring the sight for a few moments. Soundlessly she entered the room. Vampires have acute hearing, but that was never an obstacle for Lexie. She bent down until her mouth was right behind the dark brown head and whispered. “Hello Pauline.”

The small body shot forward, throwing the journal into the air and fell knees first on the floor with an ungraceful thud. Without looking up she snapped. “Gods be damned Lexie, what did you go and do that for?” Gold flecked brown eyes flashed up and Lexie gave an impish grin.

“Because I could. You really should pay more attention to your surroundings.”

“You're the only one who can do that, so unless you are planning on dusting me…” Paulie's east London accent could become indecipherable when she got riled up. And riling up Paulie was one of Lexie's most beloved pass times.

Offering a hand up Lexie pulled Paulie off the floor and up into her arms before the other woman could protest. “Hello beautiful.”

Paulie tried to fold her arms across her chest, but had to settle for resting them on Lexie's shoulders instead. They were just about the same height except Paulie had quite a bit more curves. “You are an absolute cad Lexie Artem you know that, if you think…”

Before Paulie could work up a full head of steam Lexie seized the complaining mouth with a soothing kiss. The protest only lasted a moment as the kiss deepened and Lexie found herself held tightly by the quieting woman. As the kiss ended Lexie put the woman in her arms down, allowing her feet to touch the floor, but not relinquishing her hold around the waist firmly in her grasp. “I've missed you.”

“Well it's not like you don't have my number.”

“Oh I have your number all right.” Lexie laughed.

Paulie swatted Lexie's arm. “You cheeky bugger.”

“Am I going to have to calm you down again?”

“Well it wouldn't hurt.”

Lexie pulled the smirking woman into a slow deep kiss that left Paulie at a loss for words. Recovering, Paulie smiled into bright blue eyes. “What are you doing around here you old rascal?”

“I came to ask you out.”


“Up for some dancing?”

Paulie scrutinized the smiling face that stood nose to nose with her. “Your going to the cemetery aren't you?” When Lexie didn't answer she narrowed her eyes. “I'm going with you.”

“No you're not.” Lexie said as she released her friend and stepped away. “I won't be long and I was hoping I could come back here to shower then we can hit the clubs.”

“This thing is dangerous Lexie.” Paulie said taking a step closer, wanting to reach out and touch her friend and occasional recreational lover.

Lexie's voice dropped into its ‘this is final' tone. “Which is why I can't have you with me.” She could see Paulie was about to argue. “I can't lose you Pauline, please, I will be back later and we will go have some fun.”

Knowing she was not going to win this discussion Paulie harrumphed out a sigh and narrowed her eyes as her fists settled on her hips. “Just make sure you're not late.” She sniffed then went to retrieve her jettisoned journal.

The tension in the air cleared quickly as Paulie returned to her research table and began sorting through her materials. She purposefully ignored Lexie who was beginning to leaf through her piles of books.

“So what's all this about?”

A swat to the rifling hand sent Lexie off to sit in a chair. “A patient of mine has a very nasty aggressive and rare form of cancer. I am trying to find any way I can to help her.” Paulie replied as she straightened her stacks again. “I am open to any advice you might have.” Sitting back she pinned Lexie with her gaze.

“I'm not the doctor here Doctor.” Lexie returned the gaze.

“You use to be.”

“That was a very long time ago.”

Paulie switched into her mother mode. “You could have stayed with it, it's not too late Lexie.”

Stretching out Lexie refused to take the bait. “You know I can't stay with something for very long. I'm just not as good a person as you are Paulie.”

“Bullocks, don't hand me that load of crap. The only thing the matter with you is your afraid of commitment.” Lexie squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. “That's right, I know you better than you think. You're not an island Lex, you've got to let people in.”

Paulie could feel the walls going up around Lexie. “I can't wait to meet the woman who can topple those walls and pin you down.”

Something briefly flickered across Lexie's eyes before she dropped her head and became very interested in the pattern of the old rug beneath her feet. Paulie stared for a moment wondering if she had seen what she thought she had seen. “What was that?”

“What was what?” Lexie tilted her head and defiantly looked her friend in the eye.

“Oh don't even try that. There was something just then, in your eyes.”

“Just a bit of dust, you really should tidy up in here more often.”

Paulie sat up putting her elbows on the table and wagging a finger at Lexie, a sly smile on her face. “You've met someone.”

Casually Lexie stood and walked over behind the sofa. “Don't be daft woman I meet people everyday, I'm in the people business.”

A small squeal escaped the smirking mouth. “Oh you've got it bad Love. Who pray tell is this woman?”

The conversation had officially become too uncomfortable for Lexie. She stood ramrod straight and gripped the back of the sofa. “Pauline, do you wish to go out with me tonight?”

Knowing she had pushed too much Paulie managed to regain her composure. “Yes Love.” She smiled up at her serious friend; there would be time later to find out what she wanted to know.

“Then I will return after midnight.” Lexie declared as she turned and headed for the door.

The thought of what Lexie was about to go do quickly sobered Paulie completely. “And you better not be late.” She said with a hint of worry in her voice.

Stopping at the threshold Lexie turned and crossed back to the seated woman. Delicately taking the strong chin in her hand she leaned over and gave Paulie a gentle kiss so loving that it made the Londoner's toes curl. “The promise of a date with you is all I need to ensure my safety.” She stood with a wink and a smile. “The good doctor should call in sick now because it's going to be a long night.” And with that Lexie was gone, leaving a smiling Pauline behind her.

The stark contrast between Paulie's rooms and the rest of the house was like night and day. Marcus demanded order; he craved elegance, where as Paulie was a cluttered mess whose tastes had a tendency to run to the battered and worn look. Marcus's entire home was neat as a pin, for Paulie however he made an exception. They were not merely two of the oldest vampyre alive they were the best of friends. And in the world that Lexie and her associates inhabited friends were a treasured commodity.

Taking the stairs that led to the basement Lexie moved down into the catacombs once again. Darkness was settling in and she wanted to get to the cemetery as quickly as possible. With any luck there would be no tourists or homeless people hanging around and she could handle this quickly and quietly.


It was completely dark by the time Lexie reached the old cemetery. Only the ambient light of the city illuminated the sky casting shadows in the dark open space. Crypts and mausoleums, statues and headstones created a city within the city. Paris 's city of the dead seemed to be actively recruiting residents. Lexie was here to make sure the cemetery returned to the quiet and peaceful resting place it had once been.

The entrance gates were padlocked, which meant the deaths had not gone unnoticed. Just as well, there would be no tourists or homeless to deal with. There was a particularly dark section along the south side which served as perfect cover for Lexie to easily jump the twelve foot high spiked iron fence. Once inside she looked around while heading straight for the oldest section of the grounds. She could feel an unsettling energy all around her. The temperature inside the graveyard was at least twenty degrees colder than outside the fence and it was already a pretty cool night. Lexie could feel the difference but it did not affect her. That morning she had put on what Mac referred to as her ‘ass kicking uniform'. The black leather pants, boots and long coat served as not just insulation against the cold, they held her swords unseen by any onlooker plus blood and gore cleaned off them with ease. Black tee shirts on the other hand she went through like breath mints.

The energy shifted slightly seconds before an apparition appeared floating above one of the larger tombstones. Ghostly white flowing tattered robes fluttered in place as a darkened hollow face looked down on Lexie with sorrow and rage. The wailing cry that pierced the night seemed desperate to Lexie and she had no doubt that this was a Banshee. She watched as the being circled around her and wailed again as it tried to figure out what was standing before it. Suddenly it charged at Lexie angry and screeching. She ducked around behind a large cross, spinning around in time to see the conflicting emotions on the tortured face. The whole situation was feeling very familiar.

Before the Banshee could regroup and charge again Lexie stepped out into the open and spoke up. “You're a long way from home.” The creature seemed to twist in torment. “Where is your clan?” Lexie asked a bit more gently.

The mention of her clan sent the Banshee into a raging fit and she struck out again at Lexie. As Lexie ducked to the side her coat opened leaving an exposed abdomen, it was a mistake she would not make again. The gossamer robes just managed to brush Lexie's left side leaving a large gash.

Lexie felt the slicing of her skin and looked at the oozing blood. “Well that's new, killer dress.” She muttered to herself. Considering the image before her with new appreciation she knew this was no ordinary Banshee. A Banshee is a spirit guide that lovingly accompanies its clan members to the underworld. This was the physical embodiment of a Banshee that had been severed from its clan and was suffering because of it. It was also violent and each act of violence seemed to drive it further into madness.

Someone or something was using the creatures of the underworld for their own evil purposes. All Lexie had to do was figure out who, why, where and then stop them. Sometimes this job sucked even worst than usual and this was defiantly one of those times. Fairy tales had given the Banshee a bad name; they were in fact good spirits who were attached to one particular Irish clan for eternity or the demise of the clan. They would follow the family wherever it went and upon a death guide them to the afterlife. They were very devoted to their clan and loved them.

The Banshee wailed and darted around trying to draw blood again. It was attempting to wear Lexie down so it could suck the life out of her. Unfortunately it would have a long way to go to tire out this fighter. A gash across the cheek and one on the back of her right hand had Lexie growing un-amused with their little dance. She tried to talk to it as she had with the Jackal only to have the same results. At one point the wailing sounded like it was calling for what sounded like McVittle, probably the name of her clan. That or she was craving a trip to McDonalds. Either way Lexie knew she had to end this; she could not stand the pain of the poor creature anymore.

Dropping to one knee she spun around as the Banshee swooped in and cut off a chunk of Lexie's hair. The spirit circled around for another go as Lexie stood pulling both her swords from under her coat. She brought them up just as the Banshee dropped down on her. Crossing them on the approaching neck she pulled the blades in opposite directions slicing through a very physical body. The wailing ceased immediately as the head and body fell to the ground separate of one another.

Lexie looked down on the tortured face as it began to turn to dust. “Go home now and let Finvarra comfort you.” The wind picked up and soon there was no trace of the Banshee at all. Putting her swords away Lexie turned and walked out of the graveyard.

At this time of night she knew better than to cut through the catacombs to return to Marcus's house. She still had blood seeping out of her cuts and the temptation of fresh blood could prove too much for any new vampyre no matter how strict Marcus's rules were. So she made the much longer trek across the city using the less populated streets. Just after midnight she knocked on the grand white door to the vampire's house. Depending on who opened it things could get a little tricky, but before she could begin to wonder, the door flew open and there stood Paulie, one hand on her hip the other on the door.

She was trying to scowl at Lexie, but it didn't last long as she got a good look at the blood running down the small face. “You're late.” Paulie reached out and grabbed Lexie by the sleeve and pulled her in the house. Her nostrils flared at the smell of fresh warm blood, but that was the only reaction she had. “Get in here so I can have a look at you. And don't drip on the floor, Marcus will have a fit.”

Lexie allowed herself to be pulled along by the fussy woman and smiled at the way she was being scolded. Paulie was a strong woman and did not give in to mushy hysterics very often. She may have been from the east end but she defiantly had that British fortitude. And she knew how to take charge in a crisis, which made her a really good doctor.

They made their way to Paulie's rooms undetected and the doctor took them straight to the bathroom. “Off with your kit Love so I can have a good look at you.”

Lexie grinned and arched an eyebrow. “That was supposed to be for later.”

“Just get your clothes off girl, I'll be right back.” As Paulie started to leave she noticed the large chunk of missing hair from the back of Lexie's head and frowned, of course the way Lexie wore her hair she doubted many would notice and continued out the room.

Lexie did as she was told and was washing the blood off her pants and coat when Paulie returned with her medical bag. The gashes were still oozing a little blood and Paulie stood there exasperated that Lexie was more concerned with cleaning her clothes than herself. She placed the blood soaked shirt in a plastic bag and tied it closed tight so the smell was not so overpowering. “If you're finished with your laundry would you mind if I have a look at those cuts. You're still bleeding Lex.”

After hanging her pants and coat to dry Lexie stood stark naked in front of the doctor so she could be cleaned and prodded by the little woman. Paulie cleaned her torso, face and hand but the blood still continued to trickle. “The cut on your side and face are deep, but the one on your hand is not that bad and should have stopped by now.”

“Mystical creature, mystical cut, takes a little longer to heal.”

Pulling a needle and sutures out of her bag Paulie concentrated on preparing to stitch up the wounds. “What did it use?”

Lexie gave an embarrassed smile. “Believe it or not, her dress.”

Paulie had started to dab a numbing agent on the cut at Lexie's side. She stopped and gave her friend an incredulous look. “A dress?” Shaking her head she continued numbing the area, not that she really needed to, it was just habit. Picking up the needle she began stitching up the cut. “Only you Lexie can meet a woman who could actually damage you with her dress.”

“Can we really call a Banshee a woman? Mmmm, I'm not sure.”

“Be still before I sew you to the towel rack.” Paulie continued stitching after Lexie stopped moving. “I guess this means we're staying in tonight. And I had a dress all picked out.”

“The hell it does, get to patching woman, I've got a date tonight with a hot English doctor.”

Fifty-two neat stitches had Lexie's side sealed and the bleeding stopped. Paulie moved to the cut running down the soft cheek, it would take twenty and the hand another seventeen. When she finished and was satisfied with her work Paulie sent Lexie to the shower to clean up with strict instructions not to mess up her good work. Ten minutes later a clean and pleasant smelling Lexie emerged from the bathroom. She let Paulie bandage the cuts just incase of any leakage. Paulie had laid out clothes for Lexie on her bed, a pair of black dress pants and a long sleeve black silk shirt, black lace panties and black silk stockings with four inch black heels. Lexie looked around for her companion but found herself alone. She finished towel drying her hair then began to get dressed.

A few minutes later Lexie was slipping on her second shoe when the door to the bedroom opened and in walked a breathtaking Paulie in a low cut red dress that was designed to turn heads and stop traffic, her long chestnut hair flowing down her back, held up on the sides by two antique ruby combs. Lexie stood and smiled appreciatively. She walked over to the woman and took both her hands, holding them out and admiring the figure before her. “I am a lucky woman.”

Paulie gave her a saucy smile. “Play your cards right and you just might be.” She took her time looking over the small fighter and how nicely the clothes showed off the tight firm body. Even the bandages did not take away from Lexie's intoxicating charm. Looking into the sparkling blue eyes she asked. “Lexie, do you even own a comb?”

A devilish grin turned up teasing lips as Lexie ran her fingers through her hair a few times. “Nope.”

Tucking one neatly manicured hand into the crook of her elbow, Lexie brought the other to her lips and bestowed it with a soft kiss. “If the lady is ready there is an entire city in desperate need of her beauty.”

A snort escaped red lips. “Oh you are full of it tonight aren't you Love?” Paulie smiled and wrapped both hands around Lexie's elbow; she was enjoying the compliments Lexie paid her. Paulie had always thought of herself as a bit of a plain Jane, but on Lexie's arm she felt like the most beautiful woman on the planet. “I'm ready alright.” She smiled sweetly at her escort. “But Lex if you pop my stitches there will be hell to pay.”

Lexie leaned over and gently kissed the smiling cheek. “Oh I know, I know.” She whispered.

They left the bedroom and made their way to the front door. A whistle came from an open door where two young men were sitting playing chess. The women smiled but did not miss a step or turn a head. Just as they reached the door Marcus's deep voice caught their attention.

“You two are going to break some hearts tonight.” They turned in unison and Marcus could see the bandage on Lexie's face and hand. His eyes quickly found hers and were reassured by what he saw there. “I take it our little problem is solved?” Lexie gave a single nod. “Then I hope you ladies have a wonderful evening, perhaps we could have breakfast together.”

Lexie just smiled as she reached for the door. “Perhaps not.” She led Paulie out the door and down the steps where a cab was waiting.

On the way to the club they stopped for a quick bite to help Lexie recuperate a little faster. It was almost one-thirty when they arrived and the club was hopping. Music blasted from above the dance floor and a driving bass beat could be felt everywhere. The only time Lexie had let go of Paulie's hand was when they were eating, now she pulled the small doctor out on the dance floor wrapping her hands around the silk clad waist. The two danced as if they were the only ones in the room and for a few short hours Lexie was able to forget about everything and everyone and just enjoy herself. That was the beauty of her and Paulie's relationship. They were dear old friends who knew each other better than anyone else and could therefore relax and be themselves without the constrictions of a committed relationship. And occasionally they would enjoy each other physically. They loved each other very much but were not in love and that was okay with both of them. Theirs was a friendship with benefits.

Dancing the night away without thoughts of companies to run or patients to save, no tempting blondes or nightmares come to life, they flirted and teased and danced with a raw sexuality that made the others on the floor either smile or blush. A half hour before dawn they walked home, picking up fresh croissants to munch on along the way. The sky had turned gray as they reached the house. Lexie looked up and could see the first rays of light pushing the darkness away. She scooped Paulie up in her arms and carried her into the house.

Their eyes were locked on each other as they moved towards Paulie's bedroom. There was no question as to what the rest of the morning would hold. Closing the bedroom door with her foot Lexie moved to the bed where she gently placed Paulie on it.

Paulie reached up to undo her dress but Lexie stopped her. “Please, let me.” Slowly and carefully Lexie slid the zipper down Paulie's back, she helped the woman stand and lifted the dress over her shoulders. Carefully placing it on a nearby chair then one by one gently divested Paulie of all other items of clothing.

Taking her turn, Paulie unbuttoned the black silk shirt and pushed it off Lexie's strong shoulders. She could not help looking down at the white bandage that now had a long smear of red on it.

“I need to check that.”

The movement was neither slow nor gentle as Lexie grabbed Paulie's hands before they could begin their investigation. A fire was burning in her glacial blue eyes. “You need to get in the bed.”

The look she received told Paulie that medical attention was not what Lexie was looking for and it would not be happening anytime soon. Lexie was strong and while she could be hurt she so far had not been able to be killed. So Paulie slid up the bed to rest against the headboard and watch the slow and deliberate strip tease that was being performed solely for her benefit.

After the last silk stocking hit the floor Lexie stood watching the affect her little show was having. Paulie's breathing had almost stopped while watching Lexie, now it was struggling to function at all as Lexie climbed up the bed and Paulie's body like a wild animal stalking its prey. At last the doctor was pushed down into the pillows as her entire body was covered by hot flesh pressing into her seeking to become one. Eager lips captured her mouth as she quickly surrendered her entire being to the fire burning within her. Lexie was a very attentive and accommodating lover and Paulie strived to match her in every way. And before the sun set on a day they never saw, together they had finally succeeded in satiating every need and want either of them had.

Around midnight Lexie woke and smiled down at the woman wrapped around her. Sensing eyes upon her Paulie looked up into a smiling face. “You look happy.” She smiled back.

“Oh I am.” Lexie laughed and placed a kiss on Paulie's forehead. She scrunched her face up then smiled. “But I could really use a shower. Care to join me?” Paulie's eyes grew big as she smiled and nodded.

After a long and steamy shower Paulie finally got her way and checked each suture for damage. The fact that no stitches were popped was a miracle given their previous activities. The bleeding had stopped so she put clean bandages on and with a heavy sigh allowed Lexie to get dressed. She provided a clean shirt to replace the torn and bloody one as Lexie put her leathers back on. Paulie slipped into an old pair of jeans and a soft sweatshirt. Then she and Lexie went down to the kitchen so Paulie could make a large breakfast for them.

Lexie had a fondness for crepes and Paulie made the best she had ever tasted. She watched the small woman confidently moving around preparing fruit, batter, juice and tea and could easily see her in an emergency room or operating theatre, fully in command and completely in control. She watched until Paulie brought over a cup of tea for her. Before the woman could go back to her cooking Lexie took one of her hands and forced her to stop. “You amaze me you know that?” Paulie gave her a questioning look. “You're my oldest friend.”

“Oh please, you know a lot of people a hell of a lot older than I am.”

Lexie was very aware of how old Paulie was and often wondered how much more time they would have. “Yeah, but they're not friends, not dear friends.”

Two eyebrows shot up. “I know a smoking hot blonde that would be upset with that statement.”

Lexie laughed. “Yeah, but she's family and that doesn't count.” Lexie took a deep breath and her face became serious again. “Marcus said something to me about the last time I was here. I just need to know you are okay.”

A small sound like air escaping a balloon proceeded Paulie taking her hand back and turning her attention back to the stove. “That's because last time you made a promise and you didn't keep it.”

The promise in question had to do with a werewolf pack that was slaughtering livestock and farmers alike in the high regions of Hungary . The locals were having some luck at killing off pack members, but half the pack had gone rouge and was very dangerous. Paulie had asked Lexie to let the locals handle it since they were having such good success and Lexie promised to stay out of it, but too many wrongful deaths were still occurring and Lexie had to do something. She left Paris one day in the middle of Paulie's shift without saying good-bye.

“I'm sorry Pauline, I should have never promised.” Lexie looked truly sorry as Paulie glared at her with narrowed eyes. “It's my job Paulie, I had to do it.”

With two plates of hot chocolate crepes in hand Paulie motioned her head toward the bowl of fruit for Lexie to pick up. Crossing to the kitchen table she set the plates down and took a seat. “I know that Lex, but you left without telling me, went off and got ripped to shreds when the locals were handling it.”

“No, they weren't, they were killing good pack members as well as rouge. It had gotten out of hand.”

“Next thing I've got Marguerite calling telling me she stitched you back together. Said your back looked like string cheese, but not to worry she had taken care of it. Oooo that woman!” The look in Lexie's eyes told Paulie that she was truly sorry so she decided to ease off before things got too intense. “You know how I hate it when you get hurt.”

“It doesn't really hurt that much.” Lexie tried to lighten the mood as she scooped fruit onto each plate. Paulie sent a death glare her direction. Thoroughly chastised Lexie's head dropped to her chest as she took her seat. “Sorry.” This time she was apologizing for Paulie having to listen to how Marguerite must have gloated that she was the one to take care of Lexie instead of Paulie. She had never understood the competition those two had when it came to her. After all she had never slept with Marguerite.

“I know you are, just don't make a promise you can't keep. It's one of my pet peeves.”

“It will never happen again.” Lexie promised. Paulie dropped her fork and slapped both hands down on the table, but before she could lay into a scolding retort Lexie scooped up half a crepe and shoved it into her mouth. “These are really good crepes.” She managed to get out around the mouthful.

Chocolate dribbled down Lexie's chin as she attempted to chew the massive amount of food in her mouth and Paulie could not help a small smile. She reached over and wiped a glob of chocolate off the smiling face. “I'll let that one slide.” She licked the sweet stuff from her finger then dug into her own breakfast.

Things were back to normal and the two old friends sat and talked as others wandered in and out of the kitchen all night. Even Marcus respected the two enough not to interrupt them. He simply bestowed a kiss on the top of Lexie's head as he was leaving with his bowl of coco puffs cereal. Lexie smiled at the gesture but never took her eyes off her companion.

Just before sunrise Paulie walked Lexie to the front door and kissed her good-bye. They would see each other again, they always did. Worry and pride filled the small doctor equally as she watched her dearest friend, The Protector of Mankind, walk away into the receding shadows.



Afternoon traffic was sluggish as Lexie made her way by taxi from the train station to the theatre. The sidewalks were filled with their usual people hurrying here and there, business meetings, and hair appointments, late luncheons and children to pick up. All thinking their lives were so difficult, not a one gave any thought to the nightmares come to life that could fall upon them at any time. Something was coming, the where and when unknown, but Lexie could feel it, an evil was rising.

Someone was kidnapping and torturing the creatures of the underworld and she needed to stop it. The thought that she should probably pay a visit to her uncle did not help to improve her day so she turned her thoughts to more pleasant topics. Her mind drifted back to last night and the relaxed fun time spent with Paulie. But then her mind played a dirty trick and continued on to remind her why such a distracting night was needed. Greer. The five foot eight-inch blonde beauty that seemed to seep into her every thought, how could someone she met only briefly have such a profound effect on her. As the cab moved along Lexie stared out the window, only instead of buildings and pedestrians she saw bright green eyes and a warm smile.

The taxi stopped in the parking lot behind the theatre and Lexie was finally brought out of her daydreaming. She paid the driver then headed to her trailer for a change of clothes. Earlier she had sent a message to Mac letting her know she would be in tonight's performance and she wanted to get in a little workout before she needed to get ready.

Music was blasting from the computer room inside the trailer when she entered. That meant Mac was either in a foul mood or playing computer games, perhaps a little of both. Lexie gave a shout hello as she headed for her room. She threw her coat and swords on the bed and sat to pull off her boots. Mac stuck her head in to give her boss a hard time.

“It's about bloody time you showed up, I was beginning to wonder if you were going to finish this one out or not.”

Tossing the boots in a corner Lexie looked up and tried her best smile on her aggravated partner. “Sorry Mac, I kinda got caught up.”

The bandage on Lexie's face was the first thing Mac noticed then the one on her hand as Lexie lifted her shirt over her head revealing an even larger bandage across her mid-section. “Geez Lex, what the hell?”

Having almost forgotten Lexie looked down and then at the back of her hand. She started peeling the tape off and tossing the bandages in the trash. “Ah, just a few scrapes. Would you mind helping me get these stitches out?”

Grabbing the first aid kit out of the bathroom, Mac pulled out a pair of surgical scissors and tweezers. Taking a closer look at the stitches a big grin split her face. “You've been to see Paulie.” The smile that could not contain itself on Lexie's face was all she needed for confirmation. “And you got laid.” The arched eyebrow in her direction did nothing to squelch Mac's response. “Just saying it's about damn time.”

“Just because I'm not trying to sleep with a different woman in every town we go to, unlike someone I know, ouch!”

Mac looked up from a stitch she had just roughly pulled out of Lexie's side. “Oh sorry, did that hurt?”

“Would you mind actually cutting it before you pull it through the skin?”

Mac smiled and went back to her painstaking job of removing the tiny neat stitches. “So you going to tell me what happened?”

“I don't kiss and tell.” Lexie huffed.

“I meant how you ended up with stitches. Boy you've got a one track mind don't you?”

Lexie wiped the small beads of blood away from her side as Mac started on her hand. She explained about the Banshee and how she had a bad feeling that something much larger was going on. As Mac started on her face Lexie grew quiet thinking about what might be coming.

“So if some big bad is coming maybe we should take a longer break so you can deal with it without missing so many rehearsals.” Always the practical one, Mac was used to rearranging their schedules to work around Lexie's other job. The smaller woman managed a smile with the half of her face that was not being tended to. “And you didn't tell me, how is Joseph? That daughter of his seems a little up tight. I tried to get her to go out to dinner, you know, just to talk, but she wasn't interested.”

Wiping the last bit of blood away Mac moved to the side so Lexie could see her good work in the mirror. An angry red line marked each of the places she had been attacked, but that too would fade in a couple of days. Back in the bedroom Lexie changed into some workout clothes. “Just because you struck out does not mean Greer is up tight. She's just a little more discerning than your average one night stands. And Joseph is holding his own. He asked about you and I told him you were a pain in the ass as always.” Lexie headed for the door then stopped, taking a serious tone. “Tell everyone I will be teaching self defense classes starting tomorrow if anyone wants to come and everyone should.”

The tone of voice and expression let Mac know that it was more mandatory attendance rather than volunteer. “You think it's that bad?” Lexie's eyes had already started to cloud up and that told her everything she needed to know. They would all be taking defense classes starting tomorrow.

As Lexie walked away Mac noticed the large chunk of missing hair and wrinkled her brow in confusion. “Uh, Lex?” Lexie turned a questioning face to her. “Uh, nothing.” Some questions she just did not want to know the answers to.





The entire company was at ease, they were all together again and doing the show the way it was written. And with Lexie in her starring role the audience was left breathless and thrilled. They had all gathered in the late morning at the theatre. Sitting and laying around in a circle center stage they dozed or chatted while waiting for Lexie to arrive. Not everyone was happy with the command appearance, but everyone had shown up.

High above the group's heads, Lexie walked the stationary grid and listened in on conversations that were barely above a whisper. Most were confused about why they were there. Her permanent troupe members were familiar with the occasional mandatory defense classes, some in fact had become very good with the weapons Lexie taught them to use. In fact the two married couples in residence had often requested lessons from Lexie.

The idle chatter was quieting down and most were becoming bored with waiting around. At that moment Lexie dropped the thirty feet to the stage right in the middle of the little group. She landed without a sound letting her legs act like a spring to absorb the fall and bounce back up wielding a pair of rattan escrima sticks. Bodies fell back out of the way, too startled to know what was happening. As Lexie continued on through her practice routine all noise stopped and her dancers watched in stunned appreciation of the movements.

Completing her last move Lexie looked around at her friends. “What would you do if something dropped out of the sky and attacked you? Would you shriek and run away?

What if you couldn't get away?” Looking at each face she could see that some thought this was a little over the top. “I want to give each of you the ability to reach the point that you can run away.” Everyone had gotten very quiet, as they all had noticed the marks on her face, hand and torso. It was the very reason she wore only a sports bra and leggings. “There's some bad shit out there people, you need to be prepared.”

Mac entered with an odd assortment of items you might find around the house or in an alley. She put down her load of pipes, brooms, umbrellas, a fire poker and mop on the edge of the stage. Together she and Lexie put the group through basic self-defense moves. Then Lexie used Mac to show everyone how to evade an attacker and if they were lucky enough to have something lying about, how to use that as well.

An hour and a half passed before anyone realized it. Once instructions began everyone really got into it. By the end of the session some of the newcomers to these little impromptu classes were feeling a little cocky. And feeling over confident in your ability was a sure way to get yourself hurt or killed.

“You guys did great for your first day, we're going to do this every day until we close and I hope you all will be here, it's your choice of course. This stuff was just the very basics and you'll forget most of it by the time you walk out that door, that's why we need to practice. And just so you know what you're working towards Mac and I are going to give you a little demonstration.” Lexie looked over where Mac was cueing up some music. “Mac, whenever you're ready.” She gave a smile to the group. “And just so everybody can relate we're setting it to music. It's not rehearsed so if you are called on join in.”

Smiles broke out and a few laughs could be heard as Lexie's favorite Elvis song, A Little Less Conversation, blasted through the sound system. Mac charged Lexie with her Bo staff and in the blink of an eye Lexie looked as though she were fighting for her life. Mac had learned a long time ago to never hold back with Lex. The years of sparing with Lexie had honed her into a competent and deadly fighter. She could give the smaller woman a run for her money, but in the end Lexie would always be the better fighter.

Their movements took them all over the stage. Lexie could easily jump over Mac or flip off the walls, but Mac would be right there when she landed. Mac was fighting full out, but Lexie seemed to almost be dancing with her. To make things more interesting she called out her regulars to join in. Seven people were now coming at her from all directions. Becks even managed to smack her in the face with a mop head, which only made Lexie notch up her fighting. One by one she called out to the rest of her company.

Those that had been confident only moments before were soon panicking in the face of the force that was Lexie. Her movements were a blur and as the song reached its end each of her students found themselves flat on the floor wondering how they had gotten there.

Silence returned except for the sound of many mouths trying to take in enough air. Lexie twirled her escrima sticks as she turned and began walking out of the theatre. “Same time tomorrow.”

They all watched her leave the building before collapsing again on the floor. Mac started picking up the mishmash of weapons when Devon jumped up to help.

“You know just once I'd at least like to make contact with her.” Devon said as he collected Becks mop.

“I got her in the face with a dirty mop.” Becks crooned. Devon stopped and stared at his lovely and often shy wife.

“You're my hero babe.”

Everyone was gathering their belongings and leaving to catch a shower when Kara noticed Mac walking a little funny. “Hey Mac, something wrong there?”

Dumping her load backstage Mac gingerly rubbed her side. “Nothing a hot shower, some ibuprofen and an ice pack can't fix.”

Kara laughed and patted Mac's butt. “At least she didn't get the good parts.” She held the door open for the battered stage manager and her husband.

“That's right, gotta protect the ass-sets.” Mac grinned as they headed for their hotel.

The couple had joined the company four years ago and Kara loved to watch her two bosses work at something, whether it be a routine for the show or a workout session with staffs or swords or any number of other weapons. Not only had she and her husband found a great job, they had made close and lasting friendships and Kara found herself learning something new almost everyday. While Lexie could be a bit more mysterious, they were good friends and Mac had become a very close friend. They all knew Lexie had another business that she had to occasionally leave without a word and attend to, but that did not stop her from giving one hundred percent of herself to the company and both Kara and Zolie respected her for it.


The day after Lexie visited Joseph a package arrived. Greer carried it up to her father and opened it for him pulling out an iPad with a note attached to it that simply read ‘talk to your daughter'. There was no signature but she could figure out who had sent it and smiled at Lexie's thoughtfulness while wondering why she hadn't thought of it herself.

Father and daughter spent the afternoon figuring out how to use the new devise and having conversations they had both been longing for. The lightweight size and simplicity made it easy for Joseph to handle and soon he was talking nonstop. Joseph's happiness and relief at no longer being unable to communicate brought tears to Greer's eyes.

Mrs. Stark even sat for a while and talked with the both of them. But when Joseph expressed his love and gratitude to her for all she had done she awkwardly got up and put her chair away. With a lump in her throat she started for the door. “Lord, there'll be no shutting him up now. And just when I was enjoying the peace and quiet.” She closed the door on her way out so neither of them would see the tears in her eyes.

Joseph smiled and wrote out ‘I finally got her, after all these years I finally got to the old bird.'

Greer laughed at her father's playfulness and realized just how much they had been missing each other. For the first time she truly felt there was hope for his recovery. She could see the strain and worry, that had been his constant state since coming home from the hospital, lift from his face.

“This Lexie, she's a good person huh Papa?” Greer smiled at her father.

The response was slow, but at least now there was a response. ‘She's the best person I know' he wrote. And Greer could see the earnestness in his face and hear his ‘this is not to be questioned' voice in her head.

It was late afternoon and Greer left her father alone to send off some emails to friends and colleagues that he had not been able to speak to since the stroke. Once again she tried to call Lexie, but the call went straight to voice mail. It was the third time she had tried only to get Mac's voice letting her know Lexie was not available at this time and to please leave a message. Before she had simply hung up, wanting to talk directly with the smaller woman. This time she relented and left a brief heartfelt thank you. As she hung up she realized just how much she had wanted to hear Lexie's voice, but even that was denied her. Reluctantly she went into the office and tried to get some work done. Soon she would help Mrs. Stark take dinner up to her father where they would all sit and eat together, only this time the dinner conversation would include everyone.

The next morning Mrs. Stark answered the door at promptly nine a.m. to see a tall smartly dressed man named Renault. He apologized for the delay, but an emergency with his son had prevented him from coming the day before. Mrs. Stark just stood there wondering what the man was going on about. Greer appeared in the hall behind the older woman and the man began his apologies all over again. When she inquired as to why he was there he seemed surprised to find out they were not expecting him. He quickly went on to explain that Ms Artem had ordered stair lifts for the home and he was there to take measurements and access exactly what type of lift was needed.

“But we didn't order this.” Greer insisted.

The man looked at his notes again. “But the order was placed yesterday as a rush and has been paid in full.”

“Lexie.” Greer growled under her breath.

The man's head popped up and then back down to his paperwork. “Yes, a Ms Lexie Artem.”

Mrs. Stark had taken a step back when Greer arrived and she gently laid a hand on Greer's arm. She knew how Lexie worked and the gifts did not surprise her one bit, but she could see the steam building up under Greer's collar.

“Are you Ms Diodorus?” Renualt asked hopefully looking in Mrs. Stark's direction.

“That would be me.” Greer announced defiantly.

The man seemed to grow a little paler at the identity of the offended woman. “There's a note in here, I was to tell you, that is Ms Artem wanted me to uhm…” He looked up again at the flashing green eyes and swallowed hard.

“Well.” Greer demanded.

“Ugh,” he swallowed again, “just, these are Ms Artem's words not mine.” Greer raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow to her hairline while waiting for him to continue. Renualt took a deep breath. “Just relax and think about it. Please.” He swallowed and looked hopefully at the young woman again.

Greer took a deep breath ready to tell this man just what he could do with his order, but then stopped. She could see the look of fear and hope in his eyes. Taking another calming breath she looked at Mrs. Stark who seemed to be waiting for Greer to catch up. She thought for a moment and realized Lexie was once again thinking of her father's independence. With the lifts he would be able to move around the house much easier. These past weeks he had been almost a prisoner of the second floor. Only getting out to go to the doctors and getting him up and down the stairs had been very difficult on all three of them. Letting go of her anger at the perceived intrusion she looked at Mrs. Stark.

“She did it again didn't she?”

The older woman gave her a warm smile and patted her arm. “Lexie has a knack for seeing exactly what's needed. Don't fault her for it.”

Knowing she had been wrong to get so angry Greer smiled at the nervous man still standing on the front step and allowed him inside. She gave him over to Mrs. Stark's charge and headed to the office.

“And where are you off to?” The housekeeper called to the retreating back.

“I have a nurse and physical therapist to find before she does that for me as well.” Greer casually replied as she stepped into the office and closed the door.


In the span of just a few days Joseph could communicate with people and move about his entire house with just a little assistance. With a lift chair on each staircase and a wheelchair on each floor he could come and go as he pleased. His new nurse was a pleasant middle-aged woman named Ginny who enjoyed her job and got along well with the entire household. She was happy to help Joseph run all over the house and take long walks in the park, but she was also very strict about him never missing physical therapy or taking his meds and getting enough rest. She and Mrs. Stark developed a quick conspiratorial friendship over their mutual desire for Joseph's recovery. Before long Ginny became the second person in the house to call Mrs. Stark by her first name, Alva. The first had been Annah, Joseph's wife.

The house, which had been so quiet and depressing before, was now a happy busy place again. Greer had not realized how much strain she had been under until some of it had been taken away with the addition of her father's new staff. She was much less likely to snap at someone and her infamous temper seemed dampened for the time being. Just watching Joseph functioning on his own, with the help of his nurse, was a comforting sight. She realized just how much of a difference a total stranger who had gotten dropped into her life had made. Greer was grateful for the help she had not realized she needed and could not get the small overly confident woman out of her mind.

Joseph was helping Greer adjust to being head of the firm. The Diodorus Firm was both a law firm and management company in one. They had a couple dozen permanent and prominent clients as well as referrals. And as Lexie had pointed out she was their biggest client. Her holdings and business investments were vast. Joseph was going through all of it with his daughter so that one day she would be prepared to know just how vast and far back Lexie's holdings went.

Days seemed to fly by and with the exception of a brief email acknowledging Greer's gratitude she had not heard from Lexie in over two weeks. As crazy as it seemed, she found herself missing the impish woman. Greer was not a person to believe in love at first sight and she still did not. She was not in love, but Lexie had caught her attention like no one else ever had. And client or not she wanted to get to know this person on a more personal level. She could only imagine what Harry would say if he could see her now. As her best friend, he took the job serious and kept her in check in an attempt not to make a fool of herself. Greer's biggest regret in moving home from London had been leaving Harry behind, especially at times like this.

Looking into the Nightshadows schedule Greer saw their current tour was about to end. This would mean the company would be on break for a couple of weeks before starting rehearsals for the new show. With more than one studio and warehouse in more than one country she did not know where Lexie would be during her down time. She hoped it would be in Amsterdam , but could not be sure.

It was a beautiful sunny day and Greer gazed out the window as she thought about the possibility of Lexie being in Amsterdam in a week's time. Down in the garden her father was enjoying being out in the sun and playing a game of cards with Ginny. He was relaxed and happy just as Greer had always wanted him to be. This thought lead to another until slowly a smile crept across her lips as she quickly checked her own schedule. With just a little rescheduling of meetings she could make it down to Munich for the company's last show. And since she was now representing said company it would only be good business to see just what she was representing, after all the cast and show had changed greatly since she had seen the troupe perform so many years ago. She made a phone call to the main office and had her schedule rearranged. Then booked a flight and hotel room. Finally she managed to purchase one of the last tickets available for the closing night performance of Eneidiau Daith .



The last week and a half had gone by smoothly and quietly. No unusual reports of attacks and no monsters lurking in the dark where they were not suppose to be. The show had been selling out and everyone was looking forward to the upcoming break, the air practically crackled with anticipation. And not just for the cast, once the show was secured in its warehouse in Amsterdam Mac would be taking a few days to go home and see family and friends. It was something Lexie insisted on at the end of every run, she did not want her friend to lose touch with her family. A bit ironic really since Lexie had not spoken to her mother in several years, her mom on the other hand she had seen about a year or two ago. Funny how time could get away from you when you were trying to keep the human race safe.

The new show she was writing was nearly complete, Lexie just needed some time in her studio to work out the rest. She was counting on the company's extra down time to work out just what was going on with the underworld creatures, but there was no reason she could not choreograph a new show as well. It was just the kind of schedule Lexie liked, she could not stand to be still and the more pressure she was under the calmer she became.

With only one show remaining, Mac and Lexie were in her trailer working out the plans for wrapping the show out and getting it back to Amsterdam . It was after one a.m. and Mac let out a big yawn. They had gone over everything twice and after all it was not like they had never done this before.

Lexie heard the great intake of breath and smiled at the mud green eyes that were glazing over. “Looks like my Cinderella needs to head home and get some beauty sleep.”

A sandy eyebrow shot up, as Mac was about to give a smart reply then stopped as she thought better of it, why fight the truth. “Lex, I believe that's the best idea you've had all night.” Just as she was about to get up from her comfy chair something landed on top of the trailer causing it to sway a little. In an instant she was wide-awake and jumping out of her seat to follow Lexie outside. As she ran down the stairs behind Lexie it occurred to her to wonder how Lex had managed to grab a couple of short swords when none had been in the room. The thought only lasted a moment before she got a look at what had caused the disturbance.

There in the darkened parking lot, faintly lit by the glow of a street lamp on the corner was a creature the like of which Mac had never seen before. Without taking her eyes off of it she croaked, “What the hell?”

Golden eyes pierced the night and looked down at the two smaller figures. Mac's first impression was that it was some kind of bird, and while the body had wings it looked more like a lion or some great cat. The creature stared down at them for a moment then sat rather eloquently upon the roof of the trailer.

A movement at Mac's side caught her attention. Just as she was so desperately wishing she had a weapon on her, she watched Lexie lower her swords and bite at her lower lip. Two eyebrows shot up as Mac whispered. “Friend of yours?”

Lexie looked up at the creature she knew so well and knew why he had come. She slid the short swords into her boots and took a deep breath. This was a creature she loved, but the reason he was here did not thrill her.

“What is that thing Lex?” Mac tried to whisper.

“There's no need to whisper Mac, he can hear every word, even your heart beating so rapidly in your chest. Calm down, he won't hurt you.” Lexie spared a small smile in her friend's direction. “He's a gryphon and yes, a very old friend of mine. You would want to put your hands over your ears now and press very hard.”

Mac had been with Lexie long enough to know that when she suggested something, you did it. With elbows pointing to the sky she covered her ears as tight as she could. Lexie almost laughed at the sight and could easily imagine a very young Mac protecting her ears from a loud noise.

“Malstrum, it's good to see you old friend, but what brings you here?” Lexie asked as if he were standing next to her.

A sound like metal being ripped apart answered her. And she nodded in return. Malstrum was one of her mothers devotes, but he spent a great deal of time with her uncle and this time it was he that had sent the gryphon.

“Tell him I will come in a few days, I have to close the show out, then I'll be there.” She had known a visit to her uncle was in order, but the request had not been urgent and she would see her show to the end.

The great body stood and swished its tail. He told her they would meet at her uncles where they would have more time to talk. Just as she thought he was about to take off he looked down and with a softer tone, if ripping metal could be soft, told her to call her mother, that the woman worried about her little girl. Craning his neck under a mighty wing he removed something with his razor sharp beak and tossed it down to Lexie. Even in the darkness Lexie had no problem catching the small stone. Message delivered he opened his wings and with a mighty down stroke took to the sky, quickly disappearing into the dark. Lexie watched him for a moment then turned to go back inside.

Dropping her hands from still ringing ears Mac reached out to stop her friend. “Oiy, what the hell was that all about?”

Worried eyes looked down at her and Lexie knew she would have a hard time explaining this one. Mac knew a lot about Lexie, but she knew nothing about her family and that was just the way the small woman wanted to keep it, although if anyone could handle it she knew Mac could. She smiled up at her friend. “You look like shit Goodwrench.” Using the old nickname she had dubbed the girl when first she discovered there was nothing the woman could not fix. “Come on you can bunk with me tonight. Malstrum was just delivering a message from someone I need to go see when we're done with the show. I'm hoping he can help with this latest outbreak of killings.”

“Well gee with an invitation like that how could I refuse. We need to work on your pick up skills Lex or you're never going to get laid outside of the odd antique vampyre.”

Lexie cuffed the back of Mac's head as she entered the trailer. Thoroughly exhausted they both got ready for bed without a word. Mac was also good at knowing when not to press Lex for information and the back of her head thanked her for keeping its mouth shut.



Playing to a sold out crowd, the last show came to an end with thunderous applause. After the last curtain call Lexie stood in the wings listening to the sounds of the audience leaving. They were excited and pleased, chattering about the show and where they would go to grab a late dinner or cocktails. The cast was gathering up their costumes and props and returning them to their assigned stations. A wrap crew would come in tomorrow and pack everything, for the cast the show was over.

At the close of every tour Lexie always threw a wrap party for her cast and crew and all the people who worked to make the tour happen. Her parties were legendary. A club had booked that was half way between the theatre and the cast's hotel, making it an easy walk from either direction. Still in her costume, Lexie waved as her dancers rushed off to their hotel to shower and change before heading to the club. Taking one last look around she walked over to where Mac was shutting down her computers.

“You got a date tonight?” Lexie smiled at the tall woman who was hurrying to get everything done.

“With the most gorgeous frauline you have ever seen.” Closing her laptop and dropping it into her bag she quickly flicked off all the monitor screens.

“She must be something, I haven't seen you move this fast since that blonde's daddy caught you adjusting his daughters perspective in Copenhagen .”

Mac paused for a moment and thought back to the night in question and the beautiful woman who had been oh so eager. A huge grin broke across her face. “Ah, Copenhagen , that was a lovely town.”

Laughing at Mac's infamous exploits with the fairer sex, Lexie headed for the stage door. “I'll see you on the dance floor lover girl.”

Snapping back to reality, Mac threw her bag over a shoulder and bolted pass Lexie for the door. “Not if I see you first!”

Twenty minutes later Lexie walked into the club. It was still early and the only people there were the caterers and club staff. The entrance was a small room that held the coatroom and a security podium. She gave a large intimidating looking man her name and he immediately pointed her way through a dark curtain. Stepping through the curtain, Lexie was reminded of the TARDIS, as the deceptive size of the room expanded before her. Enormous helium balloons floated on the ceiling three stories above her head with some type of illumination inside them. A large bar ran the length on one wall with soft rope lights outlining each shelf holding every alcohol know to man. The bar front had frosted plexie cutouts with light behind them that dimly bounced off the brushed steel plates of the bar. High tables were scattered around three sides of the dance floor with the same steel stools that surrounded the bar. The front area had sofas and smaller tables and chairs, while a large buffet ran the length of the wall. A steel and plexie balcony surrounded the entire room on the second floor, which was mostly a seating area and gave the perfect vantage point for people watching.

Lexie was impressed with the place, when she booked it they had not been open and she could not tell what the main room would look like. Standing near the buffet table she was glad it was not a dark room where you had to figure out who you were standing next to. She turned to see a young man approaching her from the bar area. He was the manager and she received him with a smile.

“Ms Artem, welcome, I hope everything is to your liking?”

Shaking the hand offered she took another look around. “It's great Jordie, thank you, your staff has done a wonderful job.”

The young man beamed with pride. “If there is anything you require this evening just ask, I will see to it myself.”

“Thank you again. I just want my crew to have a good time tonight.” The sound of people entering could be heard over Lexie's shoulder. She smiled again. “Looks like it's party time.” She shook Jordie's hand once again and walked over to greet her box office staff and a couple of follow spot operators. They were part of the local crew the company hired in each place they performed, and Lexie considered them just as important as her fulltime employees.

Before long the place had filled up with people laughing, eating, dancing, drinking and having a good time. Each table held cast and crew laughing and reminiscing about the last eighteen months of their lives. Mac was on the dance floor with her date, who truly was one of the most gorgeous frauline's Lexie had ever seen. She could not help laugh at her friends' ability to pick up the most beautiful women in every city they stopped in.

The party had only been underway for a short time when Greer entered the club. She had not told anyone she was coming to see the show, and only knew of the private party for Nightshadows employees from the invoices that had crossed her desk. Being one of the company's employees she thought it would be much more fun catching up with Lexie at the party. She had no trouble getting in the door even though her name was not on the list, she simply produced a card introducing her as Ms Artem's lawyer.

The club was larger than she imagined it would be and there were a great many more people then she could remember seeing in the company. The locals had invited their friends and it made for a large fun crowd.

Looking around she finally spotted Lexie sitting at a table on the side of the dance floor watching her friends. She looked happy and relaxed. Greer moved to the bar and ordered a wine before making her way to Lexie's table. However before she could navigate through the crowd the music changed and a loud roar went up from all around.

Dancers and crew from the show all converged on the dance floor and someone dragged Lexie from her chair. Greer caught sight of Mac laughing at the sight as she stood next to the DJ and therefore had probably requested the song.

The music was obviously something they were very familiar with as they all started dancing together. It seemed almost choreographed, but at the same time was very organic. They each took a turn in the center with Lexie but at a change in tempo all the girls formed behind Lexie and began stalking the guys. As they seemed to swallow their prey everyone formed a circle around Lexie several people deep. Fronts to backs, hips to hips they all moved as one and danced in a tight circle.

Even though she could no longer see the small leader Greer watched with delight. They were a tight group in more ways than one and it showed in the precision of their movements. As the music was nearing its climactic end Lexie was thrown straight up from the center of the circle and flipped about several times before disappearing again into the center. Again and again she shot up until the last note when she landed and the entire circle fell around her. Applause broke out from the onlookers as the group on the floor laughed and cheered their fearless leader.

Seated at Lexie's table, Greer could finally get a good look at the woman who had been invading her thoughts lately. Lexie had on soft chocolate brown leather pants that showed off her muscular legs quite nicely and the black sleeveless top did an even better job at displaying gently sculptured arms. Greer took the last sip of her wine and was glad the waitress had just taken her order for more. She watched as Lexie made her way back to her table and felt a thrill the moment those blue eyes found her. There was the briefest flash of something electric in them, but if she had not been watching so carefully she was sure she would not have caught it.

“Ms Diodorus, glad you could make it.” Lexie said as she took her seat. A cute dark haired waitress approached their table.

“I took the liberty of ordering you another drink, I thought you might be thirsty after that.” Greer said as she took the wine offered her.

“Red wine for the lady and spring water for Ms Artem.” The waitress smiled at Lexie.

Taking the glass Lexie returned the smile. “Thank you Anna, keep these coming and I'll be happy all night.”

The enamored waitress blushed as she turned to leave, she was excited Lexie had remembered her name. It was an effect the small woman often had on people.

“Spring water? That's what you're drinking? Wow, you really know how to cut loose.” Greer said watching as half the glass of water was drained.

Setting the glass down Lexie took a deep breath. “Hydration is very important after a show.”

Greer smiled. “The show, yes, it's a good thing I had tickets to the show or I wouldn't have been able to make it to the party. I hope you don't mind me crashing.”

Invitations to party went out to everyone who worked for Lexie but she had forgotten to change the email address from Joseph to Greer. “I'm so sorry Greer, I must have sent the invite to Joseph, I forgot to change the email address.” She looked down at her lap embarrassed, knowing she had made the slip because she was trying not to think about the beautiful blonde so much.

The downcast of Lexie's head was so cute Greer couldn't help smile. “An honest mistake, as long as you don't mind me being here.”

Lexie quickly looked up into sparkling green eyes. “You are as much a part of this company as anyone else here, I'm glad you made it.” She finished off her water and looked over to see Anna on her way with another refill.

As the waitress set down the glass she cleared away the empties then hurried off glancing over her shoulder only once to give Lexie a smile. Greer was looking around seeing mostly unfamiliar faces. She could see Mac on the dance floor wrapped around a beautiful blonde and a couple of the male cast members dancing together, no one batted an eye at their displays of affection and this made Greer feel much more comfortable. Finally her eyes landed on the long tables laden with food.

“I don't suppose you've eaten yet have you.”

Lexie raised her eyebrows as if she had to think about it for a moment. “No I haven't as a matter of fact.”

“Would you like to join me at the buffet?”

“Lead on counselor.”

Lexie followed behind the tall blonde watching the way the dark blue dress moved across slender hips. Greer's silk dress had a halter neckline that flowed down to her knees reveling a pair of perfect shoulders and a beautifully smooth back. Her long honey colored hair was pulled back in a clip to form a mane down her head and shoulders. The woman moved with such grace that it took Lexie's breath away.

Plates piled high, the two women made their way back to the table where several of the cast had joined them. The conservation erupted into hysterical laughter as they talked about their most embarrassing moments on stage. Everyone had a story except Lexie, a small fact that did not seem to surprise Greer. People came and went, joining the conversation and then leaving to go dance. Sitting quietly and taking everything in, Greer was delighted to be able to learn more about the small enigma across from her.

Before Lexie was half way through her food Devon and Zolie abducted her when a particular song came on. Greer watched as the two men threw Lexie around like a rag doll as she flipped and spun in the air above them. Becks moved out to the dance floor and took Lexie from her husband teasing him that she was going to throw up on them. They all began dancing together and soon the majority of the cast was on the floor joining in the fun.

The music was loud and the driving beat hard to ignore. Only a few people were not dancing and Greer watched the group interact with each other, their comfort and familiarity clearly evident. She watched as Lexie moved from person to person easily changing partners without missing a beat. She wanted to be out there with them, but was unsure of barging in as a stranger amongst these friends. Had Harry been with her she would have no hesitation about joining in, but her wingman was back in England along with the rest of her friends. Just as she was beginning to feel left out Mac sat down beside her.

As Mac sat she pulled a chair beside her so her date could sit close enough to be in her lap without having to share the same chair. “Greer, this is a lovely surprise. I'd like you to meet Heidi.” Greer reached across and shook Heidi's hand noticing Mac's arm possessively wrapped around the slender shoulders. Mac gave the blonde a quick kiss on the cheek. “Greer here is Lexie's manager.”

Pausing before sitting back in her chair, Greer gave Mac a dubious look. “Hardly, I think you and I both know Lexie is unmanageable.”

“Figured that out did you?” Mac laughed.

“Let's just say it's a case of first impressions being spot on.” Greer reached for her glass and drained the last drop of wine. She could not resist the urge to look around and see if the waitress would be rushing over with a refill as the woman had been doing with Lexie. That the waitress was nowhere in sight was not a surprise to her.

Heidi, the blonde supermodel as Greer had mentally dubbed Mac's date offered to get them all drinks from the bar. After extracting her tongue from the company manager's throat she sauntered off in the direction of the soft glowing lights of the bar. Mac watched her go with a wolfish grin.

Greer cleared her throat to gain Mac's attention. She could not help laugh at the lustful look on the other woman's face. “Where did you meet her?”

A big warm smile settled onto Mac's lips. “A café, best cup of espresso I've ever had.”

“So, have you two been dating long?”

Mac looked surprised. “Dating? No no no no, this is not dating, this is enjoying each others company and other attributes for a brief period of time.” Greer laughed again as her eyes wandered to the dance floor, watching as she felt a slight longing and her smile grew dim. “So, you came all the way down here to just sit and watch a bunch of people dance?”

Lost in her own thoughts as her eyes followed Lexie around the floor, Greer absently answered. “Oh no, I came to see the show.” Her words finally caught up to her brain and she paused to think about them.” So I suppose I did come down to just sit around and watch a bunch of people dance.” A glass of wine appeared before her as Heidi sat their drinks on the table forgoing her chair to sit in Mac's lap. Greer enjoyed watching the interaction between the two women and for a moment envied them. “I thought I should see what it is I'm representing.”

Taking a sip of her scotch Mac observed Greer for a moment. By all appearances the woman appeared relaxed and enjoying herself, but on closer inspection there was a lost quality to her face. Mac tracked the line of Greer's sight and was not surprised to find Lexie. Her little friend was completely absorbed in the dance and unaware of the green eyes that followed her every move. With devilish delight she jumped up wrapping an arm around her date and grabbed Greer by the hand. “Come on ladies, no more sitting around, lets move!” Blithely ignoring Greer's protests she pulled the three of them onto the dance floor where they quickly found the rhythm that filled the air.

Before long Mac had deftly maneuvered them next to Lexie. “Oye, Lexie, do us a favor.” Mac grinned down at the small woman then leaned over to Greer. “You two mind keeping each other entertained for a while?” Grabbing Heidi by the hand she spun them away from the awkward moment.

Greer looked down embarrassed to have been dumped on Lexie, but the smaller woman grabbed her hands and pulled her into a few dance moves. They both laughed and suddenly there were no more awkward moments or feelings of exclusion. Greer followed Lexie's every move on the dance floor, surprising the smaller woman with how good a dancer she was.

They moved together to the driving beat for nearly twenty minutes and just when Greer thought her legs would collapse the tempo changed. The music slowed and for a moment she was unsure what to do, then once again Lexie saved them both and took Greer in her arms and began to slowly sway side to side.

Lexie had one arm wrapped around Greer's waist while her other was by her side gently holding Greer's left hand. She relaxed just a fraction as Greer's other arm draped over her shoulder and a hand rested between her shoulder blades. “You're a very good dancer.”

“Thanks, years of dancing lessons.”

Lexie smiled as she looked down at their hands. “That's right.” She mumbled.

“I'm sorry?” Greer looked at her quizzically. “I'm not quite on your level, but I do better than stumble around.”

Looking up Lexie found herself caught in those sparkling green eyes again. “I'd say you do much better than stumble around.”

They danced the rest of the song intently gazing into each other's eyes. And just as Lexie was about to do something foolish the song came to an end. They stood for a moment unmoving until Lexie's name was called out. Breaking both eye and body contact Lexie saw Mac approaching.

“Lex, it's time.” Mac said then turned and headed for the small stage at the far end of the room where the DJ was set up.

Before taking off Lexie turned and gave Greer an apologetic smile. “Duty calls.” She led the woman back to their table then ran off to catch up with Mac.

The entire room seemed to know what was happening and slowly everyone moved back to a table. Some were up in the balcony leaning over the rails and quite a few crowded around the bar and buffet tables.

Greer took her seat trying to figure out what had just happened. She felt for sure that Lexie had been about to kiss her, but then the music ended and she saw that subtle shift in thought and demeanor happen once again. An ice bucket with a chilled bottle of champagne was placed on the table in front of her along with four glasses. Surprised Greer looked around and saw wait staff repeating the action on each table. She raised an eyebrow at Heidi who was sitting next to her. The supermodel only shrugged, not knowing what was happening any more Greer did. Devon , who was sitting at the table next to them with his wife Becks graciously stepped up and poured them both a glass.

Bestowing them with his trademark megawatt smile Devon leaned over so his head was positioned between each woman's. “Ladies if you give your attention.” And he pointed to the stage where Lexie stood with a microphone and glass of champagne, to her right Mac towered over her.

Lexie's voice boomed over the sound system, “Everyone.” People groaned in complaint and some cupped their hands over their ears. Mac quickly turned and adjusted the volume on the soundboard then nodded for her to continue.

A much more tolerable tone now filled the room. “Everyone, if I might have your attention please. I would say ladies and gentlemen, but I know you lot and I would hate to falsely represent the room.” Both laughs and catcalls rang out. “Thank you Lance for proving my point.” More laughs. “Most of you know that at the end of every tour I get up here and make a little speech about how great it's been working together. Since you already know it, I'm not going to bore you with it again.” A loud cheer went up and Lexie looked offended for a moment. “Right, in that case.” She waited a minute as everyone laughed including herself. “Over the last two years we became each others family for this brief amount of time. It was not always easy, but we managed to pull through together. I found myself pushed to my very limits both in patience and skill. And I thank you for that. I find at the end I am a little richer for having gotten to know each and every one of you. And I thank you. Some of us will say good-bye tomorrow for the last time as you go on to greater and bigger adventures. I wish you the best of luck, the greatest of success and true love to always fill your heart. Some of us will simply say see you later and take a well earned break only to come back and do this all over again in a few months. I thank all of you for your time and talent, your hard work and dedication, your love and support and understanding. I hope you have had as great a time as I have and maybe even picked up a few things you can use, I know I have. And remember no matter where you are if you ever need me just call, I'll be there.”

Mac wrapped an arm around Lexie's shoulders as they both looked out over the room of people they loved. No one made a sound and a few tears could be seen. Lexie raised her glass and everyone followed suit. “To you my friends, the true stars and heart of Nightshadows.” A collective drink was taken then a deafening roar went up as everyone cheered Lexie and Mac.

Only Mac could feel Lexie tensing up next to her in an effort to control her emotions. With the hand that was wrapped around Lexie's small shoulders, Mac lifted the smaller hand that held the mic and gave her final instructions. “Alright people I want to see some movement out there. Let's go people, let's go!” Nodding to the DJ, the mic was cut off and music filled the air once again as bodies flooded onto the dance floor.

Waiters were rushing around refilling everyone's glasses and a whirlwind of activity seemed to be taking place all around Greer, but she did not notice any of it. Her attention was still focused on the two people on stage. She watched Lexie hand the mic to the DJ as Mac leaned in to say something to the smaller woman. They had a very short conversation and then Lexie seemed to disappear off the back of the stage while Mac made her way to their table.

With Lexie gone her focus was broken and Greer returned her attention to the people around the table. Devon was laughing and making fun of Becks who apparently always got teary eyed at Lexie's little end of show speeches. Mac was busy making up for lost face time with her supermodel. And a young man whose name Greer could not remember had appeared and was taking a great interest in her.

The music seemed to be playing even louder as it continued on and on. Soft lights and several glasses of wine plus the champagne were all taking a toll on Greer. She was enjoying herself with these new people whom she was looking forward to getting to know, but she felt like she was missing something. Every few moments she looked around trying to catch a glimpse of where Lexie had gotten off to, but the small woman was no where to be seen.

One of the many useful things Lexie had taught Mac was how to observe someone without actually watching them. A half hour passed since Lexie's little speech and she still had not returned. She noticed as Greer became more and more formal with the young man who had sat down to fawn all over her. And the woman was discreetly glancing around looking for someone. Mac smiled knowing whom that pint sized someone was. After all the only person who had more women falling all over them than she did was Lexie. The difference being that Mac acted upon this gift whereas Lexie did not seem to notice it existed.

Three things happened simultaneously at this point. The young man, who had been too blind to Greer's lack of interest or perhaps too confident in his powers of persuasion, leaned in towards Greer's ear to whisper a suggestion of where they should take the evening. Mac stood to come to Greer's defense. And Lexie appeared, leaning her head down effectively stopping the advances of said young man.

“Freddie,” Lexie spoke in a low dangerous voice that could clearly be heard by those at the table. “I believe Stephen is looking for you.” She straightened a little as Freddie pulled back to sit upright in his seat. Placing a hand on Greer's shoulder Lexie smiled down at her and her voice softened to an apologetic tone. “Sweetheart, I'm sorry I took so long, work just never ends.” She held out a hand. “Would you forgive me with a dance?”

Shocked at the sudden appearance of Lexie and even more by her words, Greer finally snapped out of it and gave her rescuer a small smile while taking the hand offered to her. At the contact a tingle ran down her spine once again and she had to take a deep breath to calm her nerves. Never taking her eyes off Lexie she raised an eyebrow and gave the woman a tight smile. “Try not to be so late next time.”

“I will do my best.” Lexie smiled back and then led them to the dance floor leaving behind a few stunned faces and a very pale Freddie.

The young man realized he had just hit on his best friends bosses girlfriend. Stephen was going to kill him. The man always spoke very highly of his boss and had a great deal of respect for her. He quickly excused himself from the table and made a hasty retreat to find his friend and explain he had meant no disrespect and it had just been a misunderstanding.

Mac sat back down and managed to swallow the laugh that was about to make her sides explode. Becks turned to her stage manager with an eager face. “I didn't know Lexie and Greer were…”

Devon stage whispered to his lovely wife. “I think Lexie was just trying to save Greer from ‘over excited' boy there.”

The hopeful look on Becks face dropped as she turned to Mac. “Mac?”

“You know Lex, always the hero.”

“That's too bad. I thought Lexie had finally found someone.” Becks replied before turning to lean into her husband's arms. She and Devon had known Lexie for a number of years and she had never seen the woman with anyone. Becks and Lexie's friendship was special and Lexie spent a great deal of time training with Becks who was the only one that could even come close to Lexie's level of talent. Becks watched her friend on the dance floor and hoped that Lexie's loneliness would one day soon be replaced with the same love and happiness as she had found with her husband.

Becks was one of the strongest performers in the troupe, but Mac also knew she had a soft heart. On several occasions they had spoken about their boss and how lonely she seemed. Mac felt bad for getting Becks hopes up, but only good things could come of positive thinking. “You never know what could come from an innocent gesture Becks.”

The entire table turned to watch the small redhead and tall blonde laughing and having a good time together.


Hours later the party had thinned out some and Mac and Heidi left to continue their own party somewhere more private. Most of the locals were still on the dance floor. A large group of dancers and technicians were huddled together laughing and getting drunk. Lexie and Greer had spent the rest of the night alternating between dancing and talking. Lexie told stories about the company's many adventures on the road and while she talked Greer slowly got drunk. She hadn't meant to, but those waitresses were very good at refilling your glass when Lexie was by your side.

Finally when Lexie noticed that Greer was wobbling just a little too much she decided it was time to call it a night. Waving over Anna, she gave the waitress a month's rent tip for taking care of them all night. The young waitress was so overcome with gratitude she gave Lexie a hug. Realizing what she was doing Anna quickly pulled away and headed to the backroom, embarrassed about her little crush on the tiny woman.

Greer watched the exchange with narrowed eyes or at least one narrowed eye; the other one was not cooperating right now. “Something you want to tell me ‘sweetheart'?” She challenged as soon as the girl had made a hasty retreat.

“Yes,” Lexie smiled as she helped the woman to her feet. “We're leaving.”

“Oh, that's good.” Greer cooed as they headed for the door.

Outside the air had turned cold and Lexie made sure Greer was completely bundled up. Her own leather coat hung open, as she was still hot from so much dancing. That and the proximity of the body she had an arm wrapped around was causing her to over heat. It was only a block and a half to the hotel and Lexie thought it might do some good to help sober Greer up if they walked. They continued in silence for a while; it was slow going since Greer had to concentrate to put one foot in front of the other.

The night was quiet and dark, there was no moon out, but the streetlights provided plenty of light. The peacefulness was only broken by the sound of Greer's footsteps. Lexie had practiced the art of stealth for too long to make any noise when she walked.

It was just a whisper, but the sound of Greer's voice almost startled Lexie. “Where were you?”

Green eyes were still concentrating on the pavement before them, but Lexie could see the solemn expression on the pale flushed cheeks. “Oh, I really did have to take care of some business with the club and caterers.” Green eyes briefly flashed over at her and frowned. “You would have been fine Greer, Mac was just about to pound the guy when I stepped in. I'm sorry if he had been bothering you, but he really was harmless. You can't blame him for being overwhelmed by you.”

Greer stopped and turned in Lexie's arm to look her in the eyes, clearly they were not on the same subject. “What?”

“Well, he saw a beautiful, intelligent woman who knows her way around a dance floor. Who could blame him for trying to hit on you.” Lexie gave her a small smile and nudged them forward.

The fog in Greer's brain was not lifting and she was confused now about what they were talking about. She thought she was asking about the weeks that she could not reach Lexie, but somehow the topic had changed without her knowing. She let Lexie lead her into the hotel and up to her room. Once inside she allowed Lexie to remove her coat and deposit her on the bed. At that moment exhaustion moved in and Greer fell back on the comforter as all the bones in her body seemed to turn to liquid.

“Greer, Greer.” Lexie tried to rouse the blonde; she picked up one arm only to let it drop with no reaction from the prone figure on the bed. “Okay, you just relax and let me make you a bit more comfortable.” She kneeled down and removed Greer's shoes. Staring at the woman Lexie puzzled how to remove the dress and stockings without invading Greer's privacy. Finally she pulled Greer up over her shoulder as she pulled down the covers on the bed. Letting the woman flop back down she lifted the sheet over Greer's body and undid the top of her dress. Now she was faced with how to get the dress off. When she tried to sit Greer up the sheet fell so she quickly tore the bed covers off, wrapped Greer in the sheet, lifted her to a standing position and unzipped the lower half of the dress at which point it fell to the floor.

A little more gently this time Lexie laid Greer back in the bed and pulled the blankets up tucking her in. For her efforts she was rewarded with a small groan from the unconscious woman's mouth.

The sound caused a chill to run down Lexie's spine. She sat for a moment and pulled the clip from Greer's hair setting it on the nightstand. Selfishly she took this time to truly examine the beautiful face before her. Admiring the arched eyebrows and small pert nose, high cheekbones and the delicate chin that could be so defiant at times. Lexie brushed back a few strands of hair that had fallen across closed eyes but could not take her hand away. Her fingertips had lighted against that smooth soft skin and they wanted more. She ran a finger down the soft temple and across a smooth cheek, just as her thumb reached for the pink bottom lip, eyelids fluttered open and bright green eyes captured her.

She tried to pull her hand away, but instead it was caught by long fingers and held in place. They stared into each other's eyes unable or unwilling to move away. Lexie's breath was shallow but Greer seemed to be breathing evenly. Gently Greer moved her free hand up to cup behind Lexie's neck and slowly pull the smaller woman down to her. Unable to stop, she brought their lips together. Greer had meant for it to be a gentle kiss, but as soon as their lips touched it was as if lightening had struck and they were fused together. Gentle became urgent which turned desperate as each tried to consume all knowledge of the other in that one moment.

Greer had never known anything so soft or sweet as the taste of Lexie's lips. And Lexie had no will to refuse when Greer demanded entrance to her mouth. Once this knowledge had been discovered she knew she would never be satisfied with any other in this world. Moments passed and when they were forced apart for lack of air Lexie rested her forehead against Greer's.

Incredible and intense feelings flooded Lexie in a way she had never encountered before in her life and at the same time her heart was breaking. What she felt for Greer was greater than anything she had ever known, even with Inessa. And the thought of that caused her unbelievable pain. For anyone who was involved with her was in danger and that was the one thing Lexie could never do to Greer.

Pulling away slowly she could see that Greer had fallen asleep again. Good, perhaps it had just been a moments indiscretion. Greer had a lot to drink earlier and with any luck she would not remember this. At least that's what Lexie hoped for. Placing a gentle kiss on top of the golden head she whispered. “I'm sorry Greer.” Quietly she turned out the light and left the room. The walk back to her trailer did nothing to lessen the pain in her heart.



By the time Lexie had showered and dropped into her bed the sun was just beginning to tint the eastern sky. Not willing to think about the evening and the woman she had just left at the hotel, Lexie pushed all thoughts from her mind and forced herself to relax so that sleep could take her.

A couple of hours later Lexie's skin prickled when a sweet perfume assaulted her nose. She was instantly fully alert. Without altering her breathing or moving a single muscle she tried to determine if there was danger. Not sensing anything Lexie barely opened one eye to look around. Sitting on a chair at the foot of her bed was a smoking hot platinum blonde woman. One leg draped over the other and two milky smooth arms crossed over each other resting atop a bare knee. The look on the woman's face told Lexie that she was getting impatient waiting for her.

“You can stop pretending, I know you're awake. So you want to get up and tell me what in Tartarus is going on around here.” Lips formed a thin line as the woman began wagging her foot in impatience.

Slowly Lexie reached up and rubbed her face in order to prolong the oncoming conversation. Finally she took a deep breath and held it for a moment before letting it out. “Aphie, what are you doing here?”

The woman let out an exasperated breath. “As if you don't know.” She sat up straight in her chair and pinned Lexie with her bright blue eyes. “Last night or rather earlier this morning I got a charge so strong that it almost knocked me unconscious. I mean we're talking lightening bolt here.”

“And you came to me because you don't know you're not suppose to take electrical appliances into the tub?”

“Don't get smart with me missy. It took me a while to track down where it came from.”

Lexie shot her an unsympathetic look. “You're looking a little flushed there Aphie.” Kicking the covers off and revealing her naked body she was out of the bed in one swift move. Without looking at her visitor she went into the bathroom to brush her teeth.

The thought of what activities she had participated in earlier to relieve the sexual tension caused the blonde to blush and she lazily moved to the bed to stretch out resting her back against the headboard. “There was a lot of residual energy.” She defended her actions. A small worry line appeared on the perfect brow. “I'm not sure Niko's ever going to be the same, I hope I didn't hurt him.”

With a freshly scrubbed face Lexie moved from the bathroom to her closet to get dressed. She tried not to glance at the figure sprawled across her bed in a short skirt and tight top. “If you are breaking your toys, I don't see what it has to do with me.”

“Because you're the reason I had to expel all that energy.” Aphie stated indignantly. “I'm still coming down from the high. And when I was finally able to trace where it came from imagine my surprise when I found you.”

Throwing on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt kept Lexie from having to look at Aphie. She knew what this was leading up to and she was not ready to face it. The fact that the woman was here told her more than she wanted to know. Sliding into a pair of running shoes she headed for the door. “I'm not who you're looking for.” Not bothering with the steps Lexie jumped to the ground and went inside the theatre.

The curvy blonde was quick and only two steps behind her; she had not come all this way to be denied her prize. Stepping inside the dark space Aphie never lost sight of the girl who was trying to ignore her. Girl, she knew Lexie would scoff at being called that, but it was how Aphie saw her. To Aphie she would always be a little girl. A little girl who could kick ass, but her little girl none-the-less. “Lexie, do not walk away from me. I can't ignore this, it's what I do.”

Lexie stopped her march across the stage and let Aphie catch up to her. “Lexie, sweetie, talk to me.” Aphie reached over to brush some hair back that had fallen over Lexie's eyes. “Baby you have to stop being so afraid. Tell me, what happened last night.”

“Nothing happened.” Lexie mumbled while studying something extremely fascinating about her hands.

The theatre was completely silent and they were the only two people in the building. The small sound of Lexie's voice could easily be heard. “Whatever that was last night, it was about as far from nothing as you can get.” Aphie put a finger under the small chin in front of her, barely feeling a tremble there. She tilted the sad face up to look into grey eyes. “The only other time I have ever felt something like that was when your moms got together.”

Lexie could feel her body betraying her and she refused to give in to the urge to throw herself into the comfort of the familiar arms. Instead she strengthened her resolve. “I can't, I won't feel this. I will not let this happen, not again.”

A small staccato laugh echoed through out the theatre as Aphie draped her wrists over the small shoulders. “I'm afraid it doesn't work that way kiddo. There are truths in this world and there are absolute truths. And this is the biggest of them all. You're in love Lexie.”

“Don't.” Lexie pulled back a step causing Aphie's arms to fall to her sides.

For a moment the older woman looked like she would cry. Instead she simply closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she looked up again she could see Lexie almost begging her not to continue. “You can't run away form this Lex.” Aphie closed the distance between them and placed a kiss on Lexie's forehead. “Have faith in yourself Lexie, I do. It's time to heal.”

A single tear fell down Lexie's cheek as she watched Aphie turn and walk for the door.

Mac stood just inside the stage door in the dark unable to move at witnessing the sight before her. She had walked in to see the most beautiful woman ever to have graced the light of day kiss Lexie's forehead, whisper something to her and then walk away. Unable to move she stood rooted to the spot as the vision walked straight to her with a sexy smile and a sway to her hips. Pausing next to Mac the lithe being reached up to close the tall Scot's mouth, which had been hanging open since laying eyes on the beautiful creature.

Aphie winked at Mac and glanced at Lexie. “You take care of her Mac. She'll never admit it, but sometimes my niece needs a little help from her friends.”

Before Mac could coax her mouth to work in conjunction with her brain the woman had disappeared out the door. Lexie walked over and gave her a smack on the arm. “Snap out of it would you, you're drooling.”

“Who was that? And why have you never introduced me before?”

“We've got work to do, I'm leaving in a few hours, so if you don't mind.”

Time seemed to echo in Mac's head as her attention was finally brought back into focus. “Wait a minute, she said niece. You're related to her?!”

Lexie raised her eyebrows. “Yeah, that's my aunt Aphie. So stop thinking those dirty thoughts before I have to kick your ass. Now, can we get to work?” Some days it was just too easy to twist Mac's knickers. Throwing a quick glance over her shoulder she couldn't help smile at her friend's rumpled appearance. “Aren't those the clothes you were wearing last night?”

Making an attempt to pressing out a few wrinkles from her shirt, Mac shrugged off the observation and followed her boss with a whole new appreciation for the woman. It was not until they began going over the inventory list did it occurred to her that this was the first relative of Lexie's she had ever met. Mac had never really given much thought about Lexie's family before, never knew that she had one. Lexie had been around for a long time, how long she wasn't quite sure, but centuries were involved and now she wondered if the same were true of her family. And not for the first time Mac wondered just what Lexie was.



It was almost noon before Greer awoke. The bright sunlight that was flooding her room with comforting warmth seeped into her eyelids to pull her up from the depths of oblivion. Unable to move due to a pounding in her head that began as soon as she became conscious, Greer lay there trying to be as quiet as death hoping that immobility would prevent the room from spinning when she eventually opened her eyes. The rise to complete consciousness was a slow journey and as Greer lay there willing the queasiness and headache to go away she wondered what had crawled into her mouth and died. Brushing her teeth had just moved to the top of her list as soon as she was able to get out of bed.

After ten minutes of absolute stillness she dared to risk it. Opening one eyelid just a fraction the blonde winced at the bright light and retreated back into darkness. A few moments later she took a deep breath rallying to try again, this time concentrating on watching the dust particles floating on the light. Another ten minutes later and she was ready to try both eyes. So far so good she thought. Shifting to lay on her back Greer became instantly aware that she was naked. Slowly peering beneath the sheet she corrected herself, she was only mostly naked. She delicately pushed herself up and looked around. Her dress had been laid across a chair and her shoes were on the floor next to it. There was no sign of anyone else there and the other side of the bed did not look as though it had been slept in. She sighed as she tried to remember exactly what had happened.

She remembered Lexie had walked her home and up to her room, from there things were a little foggy. Something was pulling at her consciousness. She closed her eyes again and pulled in her lower lip chewing on it while trying to concentrate. A warmth shot through her and a shiver went up her spine as she remembered the kiss. Her eyes flew open and her breath starting coming in rapid spurts.

Greer groaned as she put her head in her hands. “Oh, what have I done?” She was not sure exactly what happened after she kissed Lexie, but she was going to find out. Swinging her legs over the mattress to get out of bed Greer hoped she had not made a fool of herself. As she stood up another issue from the previous night hit her full force causing her to dash for the bathroom.

After brushing her teeth and taking a long hot shower Greer made a mental note never to party with a bunch of dancers when there was an open bar. A bottle of water and two aspirins later she was dressed and ready to face what ever she had done last night. It was not that she was ashamed of kissing Lexie, just embarrassed at doing it blindly drunk. Greer was attracted to Lexie more than she had ever been to anyone else in her life and this both scared and excited her. She hoped last night had not cast her in a dim light with the smaller woman. For the most part she remembered them having a really good time together. Lexie had called her sweetheart, it was only pretend, but it felt so right.

Pulling on a jacket she left the room and headed for the theatre to find Lexie.



Men were rolling heavy road cases out the back of the theatre and onto one of the tractor-trailers. The striking of the show was almost finished. Sets had been broken down, costumes packed, lights, winches, soundboards, and equipment all stored in their travel cases. The performers had cleared out their dressing rooms and were all on their way to whichever far off destination they called home. Mac and her crew were all that remained and she was busy moving back and forth between the truck and stage overseeing the load out when Greer stepped inside the stage door. The empty sight brought her to a complete halt. What had only recently been full of magic and alive was now just an empty cavern. Work lights brightly illuminated the space completely removing any last vestiges of illusion.

Ticking off the order of road cases to go out Mac looked up as Greer walked in. The woman was wearing jeans and a jacket with dark glasses and a baseball cap with the logo of their hotel on the front. She did not appear to be moving with the same ease and grace as before. Clipboard in hand Mac walked over with an energetic smile.

“Afternoon Greer, glad you could make it, the last of the trunks have to come down from the dressing room.”

Completely confused Greer raised an eyebrow at the tall woman. Instantly she regretted her action but refused to give in to her discomfort. “Excuse me?”

“You volunteered for load out last night, you're running a bit late, but there's still a lot to do.” Mac replied with as straight a face as she could muster.

While a lot of things about last night were fuzzy, one thing Greer knew for certain was that she would never volunteer to load equipment onto a truck. Mac was having one on her and perhaps she deserved it after last night, but she was in no mood to play along. Mac noticed the shift in her victim's demeanor immediately, swallowing once she offered up a weak smile.

“Just tell me where I can find Lexie.” Greer quietly demanded.

“She's gone.”

“What?! What do you mean she's gone?”

Mac was no longer enjoying the predicament she found herself in. “She left about an hour ago. Said she would see us in Amsterdam .”

Letting out a sigh Greer felt exasperated. “Does she ever stay still? I really need to talk to her.” Pulling a cell phone out of her pocket she punched a speed dial number. After several rings she heard Mac's voice asking her to please leave a message. “She's not answering her phone.” She said as she snapped the phone closed and shoved it back into her pocket.

“Yeah, that rarely works. Lex is not much with the phone chatting.” Mac stepped out of the way of a road case being rolled by. She had no idea what happened last night after she left the club, but could see Greer was greatly affected by what ever it was. “Why don't you just look her up when you get back to Amsterdam ? When are you going back anyway?”

Once again Lexie had left her behind without any idea how much she needed to speak to the woman. “Tonight.” Greer was suddenly exhausted and wanted simply to go back to the hotel and go to sleep but she had already checked out and they were holding her bag as a courtesy. She had planned on spending the day with Lexie.

Mac could see the hurt on Greer's face and felt a little sorry for her. “Greer you look tired.” At the glare she received she quickly amended her statement. “Beautiful, but tired. Why don't you go back to the hotel and rest until your plane leaves.”

“I already checked out. I guess I'll go get my bag and see if I can get an earlier flight.”

Finally here was something Mac could fix. “I've got a better idea, come with me.” She walked out the back door to Lexie's truck without looking back expecting to be followed - a habit she had picked up from Lex. Greer followed her up into the living quarters of the truck and found herself in a tiny apartment on wheels. “This is Lex's room. I know she wouldn't mind you using it to catch a little shuteye. I'll send someone over to get your bag. Then we'll get you to the airport later.”

Overwhelmed with the offer Greer was momentarily stunned. “That's a very generous offer, but I couldn't impose like this.”

Mac waved her off. “Don't be ridiculous, Lex would have my head if she found out I didn't take care of you.” She headed for the door without giving the other woman a chance to argue. “Oh, and you might want to give Lex a few days, she took the bike and was planning on making a few stops.”

Before the tall lass could get out the door Greer gave in. “Thanks Mac.”

“No problem.” Mac smiled as she opened the door.

“Oh and Mac?”

“Yes?” She looked back with an expecting smile.

“Aren't those the same clothes you were wearing last?” Greer grinned as the smile fell from the other woman's face and narrowed eyes met her own. Mac left quickly grumbling about everyone being a comedian.

Looking around Greer was tempted to take a closer look at the contents of Lexie's private world, but decided to respect the woman's privacy. Instead she kicked off her shoes and lay down on the bed. She snuggled into the pillow and took a deep breath. It smelled of Lexie, as her eyes closed a smile spread across her lips and she pictured the small woman holding her close on the dance floor. Comforted by being in Lexie's bed Greer fell asleep to dream about being held in strong arms.




The sun seemed to burn dully in the blue-grey sky as puffy white and grey clouds hung overhead trying to decide if they were going to release their moisture or move along to dampen someone else's day. The city had been left far behind and the countryside was now beginning to give way to more forested land. Lexie rode until the trees became thick and her vision was limited to her immediate surroundings. Coming to an uninhabited stretch of road she pulled over, looking around again to make sure she was alone, she pulled out the stone Malstrum had given her. She held the small rock between both hands and gently rubbed until it felt warm. Lifting it to her lips, Lexie exhaled a hot moist breath onto it. Condensation from her breath enveloped the stone and she whispered to it.

“Percy, open the door, I'm coming home.”

Giving the stone a quick kiss, Lexie threw it to the ground in front of her. As it struck the pavement a portal opened in the air and quickly grew in size until Lexie could easily drive through it. Once she had completely entered the gateway it closed up behind her leaving only a small stone lying in the roadway.

Bright sunlight almost blinded Lexie as she rolled to a stop on an ancient sun bleached stone patio. She parked next to the pool of a beautiful rambling Mediterranean villa. The heat was instantly oppressive forcing her to remove her helmet and leather jacket. Lexie donned a pair of sunglasses before dropping her jacket over the handlebars of her bike.

A ripple in the clear blue water caught her attention as a gorgeous dark haired woman rose up from the surface. The smile that graced Lexie's lips as the woman moved towards her spoke volumes of how much the sight was appreciated. Water rolled down satin smooth skin bronzed by the sun and dark eyes never looked away as the woman ran a finger along Lexie's jaw then leaned in and kissed her.

The kiss was warm and soft and completely intoxicating. “Hello Percy.” Lexie managed when she was able to catch her breath.

“Hello Lexie.” White teeth flashed a brilliant smile as the woman moved to pick up her towel from a nearby chair. “It's been a while Lexie, you really shouldn't stay away so long.”

“Yeah well, I never feel very welcome when he's around.” Lexie watched as Percy dried herself off then squeezed the water from her long dark hair. It had been over a year since she had seen the tall gorgeous woman and at least five since she had seen her uncle.

“You let him get to you sweetie, he's just like those old dogs of his, his bark is worse than his bite. Trust me.”

The white string bikini did not do much to cover all that gorgeous skin and Lexie was finding it a little distracting. “I know, but Mother always said to show him due respect. I'm just trying to keep the family peace.”

Dropping the towel on the back of the nearest chair Percy closed her eyes and tilted her face to the sun. “This family is a bunch of drama queens, you're a good kid Lexie.”

One hand on her hip, Lexie smirked. “I'm nearly twenty-four hundred years old Percy, I'm not a kid anymore.”

From behind Lexie a deep smooth voice spoke up. “A fact we are very well aware of.”

Centuries of training were the only thing that kept Lexie from startling at the sound. Instead she turned her head and gave a slight nod as the tall man walked up beside her. “Uncle.”

“Lexie.” His deep voice showed no sign of his mood, but as he looked at his wife his nostrils flared just a bit. “Persephone, cover yourself.”

Percy picked up a sheer robe and slipped it on while giving her husband a smirk. The robe only made her look even sexier so Percy turned her warm dark eyes on Lexie and smiled knowing it would infuriate her husband.

Cold dark eyes flashed with anger. “I will not have you flaunting yourself in front of her.”

Lexie could see the situation was quickly deteriorating. This was why she tried to avoid her uncle whenever she could. Well, she had just stated she was no longer a kid and it was time she proved it. “Hades, enough, that little slip happened almost three hundred years ago. Get over it.” She swallowed hard as dark eyes flashed sparks at her. “Uncle,” she said a little softer, “open your eyes. After all this time Percy could be anywhere with anyone she chooses and she's here with you.” She noticed that his nostrils were not flaring as much. “Lose a few battles Uncle, but win the war.”

An angry Hades was an intimidating sight. He was tall and well built, not bulging with muscles like her uncle Ares, but well defined with handsomely chiseled features. The few strands of silver in his black hair only made him look even more distinguished, his goatee and mustache were still completely black and neatly trimmed. Lexie had always thought her uncle was a good-looking man and knew him to be capable of both great kindness and severe punishment. It was a fine line sometimes so she had always called him uncle just to remind him of exactly who her parents were. When dealing with certain members of her family every little bit helped.

For a moment steely dark eyes bored into Lexie, then a twitch of his mustache and Hades gave her a slight smile. “Perhaps you have grown up Lexie.” Holding out a hand to his wife he gently demanded, “Come inside Lexie there is a matter I need to speak to you about.” Hand in hand Hades and Percy headed for the house, but before they had taken two steps Hades called over his shoulder. “But first get that thing off my patio.”

And just like that the uncle Lexie remembered was back, a man to be cautious of but not one to live in fear of. Perhaps he had been looking for a reason to respect her again. As she rolled her bike around to the driveway Lexie laughed to herself. Percy was right, drama queens, the lot of them.



At Percy's insistence Hades had bought the villa on the isle of Andros . She had grown tired of living in the underworld and wished to see the sky. And from their hilltop she could look out on the Aegean Sea or down on the orchards of olives, dates and citrus trees. They had moved topside in the early part of the nineteenth century and Percy quickly went about modernizing their whole way of life. Where their home had been dark and gloomy, now it was light and open to the air and sunshine.

Percy was personally responsible for Hades new look. Most days he wore hand made Italian suits that Percy picked the designs for herself. His one contribution to the ensemble was his silk ties, each color reflecting his mood that day. Percy had an extreme fondness for designer clothes herself and wore them like a supermodel. Together they made the perfect beautiful couple. Heads would turn and eyes could not help but watch as they went by wherever they traveled. Astounding beauty was a family trait.

Each day Hades went off to work in the underworld and Percy would usually stop by at least once during the day to play with their dog Cerberus and visit with old friends. It was also Percy who insisted they take a vacation each year. In a lot of ways they were just a normal couple.

Lexie found Hades in his study looking rather grim. Percy had gone to take a shower so the two of them could be alone to talk. She knew her husband was very upset and it angered him because he had to ask for help.

Hades poured two lemonades and offered one to Lexie. He sat at his desk while she took one of the soft leather chairs in front of it. “I'll get right to the point Lexie. One of my Lampiades is missing. I didn't think much of it at first, just that she was under the weather or needed a little time off, but no one has seen or heard from her in almost two weeks.”

“And you called me?” Lexie had planned on visiting her uncle to see what information she could get from him when he had unexpectedly summoned her. Hades was quite capable of handling anyone who messed with his underworld, so why had he called her?

“I have gotten reports from other regions of the underworld about creatures going missing. Then someone said you were fighting and killing some of the missing topside.” He looked at her for a long moment. “I was ready to bring you downstairs and flay you myself.” He paused again and looked almost sorry. Almost. “Persephone stopped me. She knew you wouldn't have anything to do with it.” Those steely dark eyes bore into her again. “Tell me you didn't have anything to do with this Lexie.”

It was understandable that Hades would question her, but that didn't mean she had to like it. “I was informed of a series of killings happening in rural Slovakia , when I got there I found a Jackal, crazed out of his mind and in a lot of pain. Someone had tortured him and purposefully placed him there for the sole reason of killing. I did fight him and when he begged me I killed him.” Lexie's eyes had gone grey and she could see the effect her words were having on her uncle. “A few weeks ago, same thing only this time it was a Banshee in Paris . I was planning on seeing you to ask for help, but now this too has touched you. I don't know what's going on Uncle, but I will find out.”

Hades stood and began a slow trek around the room. “How could anyone do this? These are guardians not sheep.”

Thinking back on his words earlier Lexie questioned. “You said your Lampiade has been missing for two weeks. That means whoever is doing this is holding them prisoner somewhere and torturing them in order to break them. Then releasing them so far from their home that it completely drives them over the edge.”

The thought of one of his nymphs being tortured was heart breaking for the god of the underworld. “Larice.” He barely whispered.

“Excuse me?” Lexie had no problem hearing him.

Coming back to his desk Hades sat with a defeated slump. “Larice is one of the nicest and kindest torch bearers I have. The thought of someone torturing her is unthinkable.”

Watching the mighty Hades distraught over the loss of one of his people was more than Lexie could take. “Oh for eternity's sake! Don't go all soft on me now. If Larice is your friend then help me find a way to save her.” She watched as dark brows furrowed and a chiseled jaw set. Hades straightened his shoulders and took a deep breath. He was ready to deal with this. “You said you'd had reports, what else can you tell me?”

Being chastised by his niece was not something Hades considered appropriate under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. Someone was taking the inhabitants of the underworld, his underworld, and he would not stand by and let it happen. Not being a fool he also knew his best hope lie in Lexie. Despite the fact she had slept with his wife nearly three hundred years ago, he knew exactly how good a protector Lexie was.

They shared information and theorized for over an hour. As far as they could tell three creatures including Larice were missing. And giving the timing of the first two, Lexie figured it was about time for someone to pop up soon.

Percy knew the discussion they were having and could not bear to be a part of it. Larice was a close friend and all she wanted was to have her home safe once more. After her shower she went into the kitchen and cooked a traditional Mediterranean meal. When the door to the study opened she did not take no for an answer and ushered her husband and niece out to a balcony that over looked the sea and sat them at a table heavily laden with food. There was no more talk of why Lexie had been called there. Instead they caught up on the news of each other's lives. Percy was adamant about catching one of Lexie's shows and Hades reluctantly agreed.

They sat sipping wine from the property's own vineyard and watching the sunset. Once the last rays had disappeared Lexie knew it was time for her to leave. She updated her phone with both their numbers and promised to call with any news. Hades would look into things from his end and give her regular updates. He walked them out to Lexie's bike and gave her a kiss on the forehead good-bye then left the two women alone to say good-bye. Despite his little jealously he was not fool enough to deny letting his wife have her fun.

Alone in the moonlight Percy wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and held her tight. “Promise me you'll be safe Lexie.”

“I'm always safe Percy.”

Laughing Percy pulled back to look into crystal blue eyes. She loved the way Lexie's eyes were always changing; it reminded her of Hades and his ties. Pulling Lexie close again their lips met in a loving kiss. Letting go she pushed her niece toward her bike. “Don't be such a stranger anymore and call me. And call your mom.”

Lexie stopped with her helmet halfway to her head. “Is there something going on? You're the second one to tell me to call home.”

Running a finger down the side of the small face Percy smiled down at her. “No sweetie, just call home, your moms would never interfere with your life, but they miss you.” Slipping a hand into Lexie's pocket she dropped a small stone there and gave her niece a small nod.

Jamming the helmet down on her head Lexie straddled her bike and turned it on. “Hey Perce, would you mind dropping me in my back yard in Amsterdam . Save me the ride from Germany .”

“Sure kid, just picture where you want to be and take off.” Percy pointed down the driveway and a portal opened. Lexie drove through then quickly came to a stop in her own courtyard.


It had been well after midnight when Lexie arrived home. After putting her bike away she took a hot shower and went straight to bed. Dealing with her family, any part of it was exhausting. She had a lot of work to do and not a clue where to start.

Hades had seemed to think someone was trying to take over the underworld, someone big, someone powerful. Lexie did not see it that way. If it were someone big and powerful why play around with a few creatures, why torture them and then release them on the topside population. Why not go directly after the heads of the underworld. The more Lexie tried to piece it together the more it made sense to her that some marginally talented individual had found a power source and was learning to use it by committing these horrible acts. Stealing from the underworld was extremely difficult, stealing from Hades, was almost impossible. And yet it had been done.

The question was where to start looking. No ordinary mortal could do this. Someone with a talent for magic seemed more likely. The Jackal and Banshee had both smelled of magic, something Lexie had not paid much attention to at first. The Jackal was able to break free of his torment for only a moment, but what if it was because the magic had been weakening. The Banshee had been more firmly controlled, so the power or control was growing. Lexie needed to find who ever was doing this and fast before their power grew beyond their control and endangered everyone.

Mortals could tap into magic, but only those who were born with ties to the ancient powers. They learned to cultivate their natural skill and tie into the ley lines of the earth. Be they descendents of the Fates or the Furies, they had to be careful. Once that power was touched it could easily take over a weaker soul. Most mages are strong spirited people and can easily keep the dark pull in check. But a few give in, welcome it even and they were the ones to watch out for.

Of course mages were not the only ones who could tap into the powers of the ley lines. Ancient powers and ancient ties were in Lexie's blood. If she could use the ley lines to track the source then perhaps she could find whoever was doing this and put a stop to it. The only problem was she could not do it alone. Lexie needed help, powerful help, and she could think of no more powerful source than her parents. It was time for a mothers and daughter reunion.

It would be two days until Mac rolled in and unload the trucks into the warehouse on the south side. The cast was already gone and Mac's ticket home put her on a tight schedule to unload and secure everything in two days. The tall Scot would not be happy about that, but Lexie needed everyone cleared out for what she was about to do.

Trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible, Lexie decided a good long workout was just what she needed to clear her head. She changed into workout clothes then prepped the equipment. She opened the floor tramps, hung silks, hoops, and webs then strapped on her sword. Lexie decided against music so she could concentrate on her movements.

She started with a floor exercise, incorporating sword maneuvers into her acrobatics. She used every piece of equipment as well as the entire building. Whether tumbling across the floor, bouncing into the ceiling or moving between silks and webs, Lexie was a blur of fast, strong and lethal movements.

In the quiet of the building the only sounds that could be heard were the occasional jangle of equipment. Therefore it was very easy for Lexie to hear the front door open. She was on the grid and quickly disappeared into the shadows high above the floor. Sword drawn she waited and watched.

Large windows from the second floor were the only light source at the moment and shadows fell across much of the space, but Lexie needed no light to recognize Greer walking into the room. The blonde seemed almost lost when she stepped in looking around as if unsure she should be there at all.

Greer stood for several long minutes just looking around. Finally letting out a loud sigh she put her head in her hands. “What am I doing here?” she whispered to herself. Dropping her hands she took a deep breath and looked at the room that seemed to be waiting to come to life. “What the hell am I doing?” she almost shouted to the large open space.

Dropping down behind Greer without making a sound Lexie whispered her name. Greer screamed and jumped back three steps before falling down.

Trying to catch her breath after seeing it was only Lexie, Greer shouted. “You scared the shit out of me! What the hell are you doing here? Where did you come from?!”

Lexie realized she was still holding her sword and quickly sheathed it. She walked over to the slightly hyperventilating woman and kneeled down beside her. “Are you alright? Did you hurt yourself?”

“Other than a small heart attack I'm fine.” Greer growled at the small woman. She quickly saw an apologetic look and took another deep breath to try and dispel the rest of her anger. Greer's eyes could not help roaming over the small fit body and taking special notice of the light sheen of sweat that glistened on the smooth skin. She shook her head to clear out those thoughts as well. “What were you doing?”

Lexie reached out a hand and helped Greer up. “I was working out.”


Pointing up to the grid Lexie did her best not to smile. “Up there.”

“With a sword?” Greer looked skeptical.

“It's great for agility and balance. Come on you look like you could use an orange juice.” Lexie led Greer to the kitchenette in the back and poured them both glasses of juice. Dropping her sword on a table, Lexie sat in one of the big over stuffed chairs.

Greer hid a smile as she noticed the chair made Lexie look even smaller. She walked over to the table to admire the discarded sword. “It's beautiful. Do you mind?” Getting a nod of approval from Lexie she sat her juice down and carefully removed the sword from its sheath. Greer had years of experience with swords, she held a first-degree black belt in several forms of martial arts and had trained with numerous weapons. “The weight and balance are perfect.” She sliced the air in a simple routine and then returned it to its proper place.

Lexie watched carefully as Greer handled the one of a kind weapon and was happily impressed. It was very obvious Greer knew what she was doing. She waited until the blonde had taken the seat next to her. “You handled that well.”

“Fifteen years of lessons, but I think that is the finest sword I have ever held. Where did you get it?” Greer sipped at her juice completely calm now.

“It was a gift someone made for me. Perhaps someday you will show me what you know.” Lexie smiled thinking of the day she convinced Joseph to enroll Greer in her first Tae Kwon Do class.

“I'll show you mine if you show me yours.” Greer said before she had time to think and sensor herself. Her cheeks flamed bright pink, but she quickly smiled when Lexie just laughed.

“I look forward to it.” Lexie watched the woman for a moment. “So Greer, what exactly brings you here?”

Setting down her juice, Greer knew she could not stall anymore, somehow the fire she had in Munich to talk with Lexie had fizzled out on her and now she was feeling a little unsure. “I didn't know you were going to be here.”

“So you thought you'd just come and hang out?”

“Yes, I mean no” Greer could not believe she was actually stumbling over her words. “I mean I was going to leave you a note.”

Lexie waited for a moment, but no other information was forth coming. “And what would this note have said?”

Looking at her hands for a moment Greer's cheeks flushed again. “That we needed to talk.”

While deep down inside Lexie had the greatest desire to run away from what this conversation could be, instead she moved over to sit next to Greer on the sofa. “What do you want to talk about?”

Not use to having her emotions so out of control Greer took a deep breath to pull herself together. “I just wanted to apologize. I had too much to drink the other night and

I hope I did not embarrass you. I don't normally do that, especially at a clients function.”

“You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Trust me you were not the only one who had a little too much to drink. It was our traditional end of tour time to relax and celebrate. I just hope you had a good time.”

“I did.” Greer said a little too quickly. “I had a wonderful time and I wanted to thank you, it was lovely. And I also wanted to thank you for seeing me back to the hotel.” Greer looked into blue eyes that seemed to have a band of grey surrounding them. Her stomach fluttered while her breath temporarily left her. Suddenly she felt as if they were in the hotel room again. And the thought snapped her back to her original reason for wanting to talk to Lexie. “And I hope I didn't make you feel uncomfortable.”

“It was just a party Greer, a night to let loose. Why would I have felt uncomfortable?”

“Because I kissed you.” Greer watched the face before her carefully, trying to see any reaction.

Lexie felt the nervous hope in those green eyes intently focused on her. She could never intentionally hurt Greer, but she had to think of the greater picture and Greer's safety. “It was just a simple kiss good night, that's all. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.” Instantly she saw the green eyes shift from hope to hurt. Unable to take the pain of disappointment, Lexie stood up and retrieved her sword. “Greer you are a very important part of this company and I hope we can be good friend. We're pretty relaxed around here so don't worry so much.” Lexie slung the sword over her shoulder. “You're one of us now.” She placed her glass in the sink and rinsed it out.

Disappointment was all Greer could feel at Lexie's reaction or lack of one to be more precise. She had been certain at the hotel Lexie had felt the same things that she had. Now she questioned herself, could she have been so wrong? Had it simply been an innocent good night kiss? Every fiber of her being told her she was right, but Lexie was brushing her off now so perhaps she had been projecting too much of her own wants into the situation.

Greer brought her glass to the sink and rinsed it out then followed Lexie back into the main room looking for any sign of the feelings she had picked up on just two nights ago. “I thought you'd like to know Papa is doing better.”

Facing Greer, Lexie smiled. “Good, I'm glad. So he's getting along with his new nurse?”

Letting out a small chuckle Greer shook her head. “Getting along? I think he has a small crush on her. It's a constant source of amusement to Mrs. Stark.” An awkward silence fell between them. Greer knew she should go but could not bring herself to do it. “So what are you going to do now that the show has ended?”

The sweet fresh smell that was Greer threatened to over take Lexie as she stood watching the soft mouth as it spoke to her. Desperately needing a distraction she began flipping the switches to raise the silks and web and close the floor. “Well, now the whole process starts anew. New show, new set, new cast, new tour. The kids get some time off while I put the final touches on the new show, then we start rehearsals.”

“What about you? Don't you get any time off?”

“I'm not really much of a vacation person.”

“So you'll be in Amsterdam for a while then. We should get together, have dinner.” Greer began to feel hopeful again.

“I'm not sure yet, we may go to the studio in Scotland , I haven't decided.” Lexie could see the disappointment in those bright green eyes. “Look Greer, I might be gone for a couple of days. I have some rather pressing things to take care of. Mac will be at the warehouse putting everything into storage and I might be unreachable, so if you need anything just call her.” Lexie had been walking them in the direction of the door the entire time she had been talking. “And if you want to come over and work out feel free, anytime, you have a key so please make yourself at home.”

They had reached the front door and Greer knew it was time to leave. She said good-bye and quickly departed feeling completely disappointed and even more confused then when she had gotten there. Lexie had turned her down without even hearing her out, but she could not help feeling that there was something there, something between them and she was not going to just walk away. Could it be that strong, talented and successful Lexie Artem was not all that secure with her own emotions? This new thought lifted the heaviness that had fallen on her and she left feeling determined to find a way to get through to Lexie.

Locking the front door Lexie then made her way up to her apartment and secured her sword. She walked into the living room and was unfazed to see another beautiful blonde on her sofa. “Aphie now is not a good time.” Moving through to the kitchen she grabbed a bottle of water and started to chug it.

Aphie stood blocking Lexie's path as the smaller woman tried to head for the shower. “Lexie, I love you, but that was just cruel.” The blonde daftly continued to block the path. “You hurt her. Why would you do that to someone you love?”

“Love!” Lexie roared. “Have you been sniffing those potions of yours again? I do not love her Aphie, I am not in love!” With that she grabbed the woman by the arms and easily picked her up removing the obstacle from her path. Storming down the hall she turned on the shower already dismissing her aunt from her mind and proceeded to undress.

Still standing in the living room with a sly smile spreading across her lips Aphie watched as Lexie disappeared down the hall. “Me thinkith the girl protest too much.” Walking around and stretching out on the sofa she closed her eyes and concentrated. Aphie was tapping into Greer's energy and a big smile spread across her entire face. “Oh my little Lex, you are not getting out of it so easy this time.” And with a sigh she vanished.



After calling every contact she had to keep a sharp look out for anything even slightly off, Lexie began working on a plan to track down whoever was wrecking havoc on the underworld. Now that Hades was involved it felt somehow more personal. She had no desire to see the hurt in Percy's eyes again so she would do everything she could to find Larice and put an end to this torturous rain of terror.

The Paris incident had put her in favor with the vampires. One call to Paulie and the greater part of the vampyre nation had her back. Now there was only one call left to make. Grabbing a bottle of water Lexie headed for a small door at the end of the upper hallway. Taking the stairs behind the door she made her way up to the roof.

Most of the roof consisted of peaks and valleys with long slopping sides interrupted by dormer windows in the attic. A small section over her apartment had been converted into a rooftop deck. Various sized flowerpots were scattered around providing a cozy setting with a profusion of color. A small table placed between two comfortable chairs looked out over the courtyard and a precisely placed chaise lounge afforded the perfect view of the sunset. Lexie stood at the rail looking out over her garden below. It was a peaceful and private setting in the middle of a large bustling city. She sipped her water for a moment enjoying what she was sure would be her last bit of peace for a while.

The sun had slid away, streaking magenta and pink across the purple expanse of sky. Placing her water on the rail Lexie looked to the stars that were just beginning to peak out. “Mom, I need you. Mother I need your help.” She spoke gently to the night and only had to wait a few moments before two women shimmered into existence behind her. Lexie turned with a smile before they had completely transported. “That was fast.”

“You called.” Said the taller woman with reddish blonde hair.

“We came.” Answered the smaller woman with dark brown hair.

“As we always will.” They spoke in unison. Reaching out they both embraced their daughter in a tight family hug.

Lexie had always been reluctant to call her parents for help. There was still a small part of her that felt as if she had let them down in some way; that she had not lived up to their expectations of her. After all, being the daughter of two goddesses meant people expected great things of you and her parents most of all, but when you have no powers, well let's just say Lexie felt the need to work harder to over come it.

The taller woman pulled back and gave Lexie a thorough looking over. “Lexie, it's been a while, your mother has been worried.”


“Athena, you promised you wouldn't do this.” The smaller woman reminded her wife and clasped her hand.

“I'm sorry Artemis, but you have been fretting over her for months now.”

Lexie raised her hands in surrender. “Guys, could we just pull it back a notch. I'm sorry I haven't called in a while, but I've been a little busy.” Saved from their own bad behavior the two goddesses gave an apologetic smile to their daughter. Lexie noticed they were still holding hands. “So are you two feeling lovie or are you just nervous?”

Athena's grey eyes narrowed at her daughter as she slipped an arm around Artemis' shoulders. “I have always loved your mother Lexie, even when we are not together.”

As if Lexie's entire existence were not hard enough to explain to someone, trying to explain her parents was a whole other ballgame. Her moms did love each other, more than any two people she had ever known, but eternity was a long time to spend together so occasionally they would take a break. Artemis had once explained it as keeping the relationship fresh, giving them something new to discover about each other. Lexie did not care what the reasons were, she was just always glad when they were together.

Many myths surrounded Lexie's parents, most were fairy tales, some were greatly exaggerated and a few were the actual truth. Such as Artemis being a great hunter and exceptional warrior and Athena being Zeus' most trusted. The fact that everyone thought her parents were sisters did not really bother Lexie, after all the Olympians lived in a different world and had their own set of rules. To Lexie they were not goddesses they were her mother Artemis and her mom Athena and they loved her very much, even if it was a tough love at times.

Darkness was quickly descending and Lexie strained to find the stars through the increasing glow of lights from the city. Artemis stepped over and wrapped an arm around her daughter's waist. “What's going on my little one?” Lexie looked into the face so like her own and took a breath to speak only to close her eyes and take another breath. “Come on.” Artemis walked them over to the chaise and pulled Lexie down next to her. Athena dragged a chair over to complete a tight triangle.

Lexie knew the direct approach was always best with her parents. “Someone is attacking the creatures of the underworlds. Not just attacking, but taking them, torturing them and then releasing them on humanity.”

A grave expression came over Athena's face. “To what purpose? Surely no one is stupid enough to go after Hades.”

“No God would dare.” Artemis added with authority.

“I don't believe it is a God.” Lexie saw the question and disbelief on the faces before her. “It just doesn't have a God-like feel. I believe a mortal is tapping into the powers of the ley lines and seeking out the darkest power there.” Lexie could see that this information came as a blow to her mother. She explained about her encounters up to this point, including her visit to her uncle. The fact that Hades could not track the culprit and went to Lexie for help meant that someone had indeed gone deep into the darker recesses of the ancient powers of the earth.

Artemis listened to her daughter and had a sinking feeling about why she had been called. “What is it you need from us Lexie?”

Giving her mother a small smile. “I need you to guide me through the power of the ley lines so I can hopefully pick up a trace of who this is and where they are.” Lexie noticed Artemis' hesitation. “They have Larice, one of Hades lampiades and I promised Percy I'd get her back. I won't let any more die because of some sick bastard.”

“Lexie, language.” Athena automatically reprimanded.

“Sorry Mom.”

The Goddess of the hunt reached over and patted her wife's knee. “She's right.” She looked at her daughter and paused to take in the woman before her. Small and steely with a determination that was unmatched by any other, sheer willpower alone was Lexie's greatest power. They had named her ‘the protector of mankind' and she had grown into her title like any other God. Lexie, her daughter was truly The Protector. “If a mortal has tapped that deep into the dark powers it will have a profound effect on them. It would change them not only spiritually, but also mentally and physically. It warps and twists and deforms. This will no longer be a rational individual. This will be a very dangerous person trying to think like a man but devoid of rational thought and depending on how long they have been connected to the darkness their soul will blacken and wither away. No man can completely own the darkness, eventually it will own them.” Taking her daughter's hand in both her own Artemis looked into the blue-grey eyes. “I can guide you along the paths of the lines and Athena can protect you.”

Lexie leaned over and gave her mother a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you Mother, both of you.” She reached over with her free hand to hold Athena's hand. “So when can we get started?”

Artemis smiled and they all three shimmered out of sight.


The sun was beginning to slip below the horizon as two unmarked tractor trailers rumbled down a street in Diemen Zuid's warehouse district. Mac stretched her neck to the right then the left trying to relieve some of the stiffness from driving all day. The truth was she actually liked driving the big trucks, but that did not mean she was any less stiff when she climbed down from the seat at the end of the journey. The trucks turned down the final street that would bring them to their destination at last.

The sight of the open gates and Leander leaning against an open bay door brought a huge grin to Mac's face. She pulled in first and expertly backed the truck up to the far loading dock. Her crew chief Danny followed in the second truck pulling up to the closer loading dock. Three passenger vans driven by crewmembers filed through the gates and drove straight into the warehouse through the open bay door. This was a routine they all knew and quickly went about securing their transports.

Leander was already putting chocks in place when Mac jumped down from the cab of her truck. Throwing a duffle bag over her shoulder she called out a hello to the tall lean man who looked like something out of a Viking fairy tale. Once the troupe crossed those gates Mac knew a large part of her burden was lifted. Leander ran a tight ship, he was not just a warehouse manager, but their over all general Mr. Fix-It. Be it a piece of scenery or one of the truck engines, Leander could handle it all. When anything left the warehouse it was in perfect working order.

It was an exhausted and ragged looking group that gathered inside so Mac quickly told everyone to go get some sleep. They would start the off load in the morning and in two days it would all come to an end. The crew, who were glad for the night off, piled into one of the vans to head to the house they had dubbed “dark wonders”. It was a two story house Lexie had bought in Diemen so the crew could be close to their work and not have to travel across the city every day. When the time came in the rehearsal process to add the sets, the entire company switched to the warehouse to pull the show together. Somehow the performers never minded the extra hour sleep they would get in the vans traveling across the city.

Mac watched them leave then headed to the back of the building where her own sleek bright red motorcycle waited. Starting it up Mac sat for a moment smiling as she revved the engine. She liked to run her bike just a bit nosier than Lexie and the rumble that echoed through out the enormous space sent a shiver up her spine. With a wave to Leander she sped out of the warehouse heading for the Jordaan.

Absolute quiet greeted Mac as she entered the rehearsal studio from the courtyard. The stillness was a rare treat and Mac let it wrap around her like a comforting blanket. Making her way up to her suite of rooms she stopped by Lexie's first to see if anyone was around. Everything was dark and quiet so she continued on eager for a hot shower.

Years of working late into the night had completely altered Mac's internal clock. Use to going to bed around one or two a.m., Mac giggled to find herself crawling into bed at nine and quickly drifting off to sleep. Her first night home after a tour ended was always the same, her body immediately relaxed and sought the deep regenerative sleep she needed. The next two days would be relaxed and easy as they unloaded the trucks and sorted the equipment. Sets would be put away and costumes sent to the design shop for cleaning, repair and storage. Then and only then would Mac board a plane for home and a quick visit with her own family.

Unloading and packing away a show was easy for Mac, enjoyable even, but after two days most of her suitcases still sat in the middle of her sitting room where one of the guys had dropped them off. The thought of doing laundry and putting her clothes away was more then she wanted to deal with. Not to mention all the mechanical bits and pieces that she would pull out of her pocket at the end of the night. She needed to pack for Scotland and was forced to unzip and dump the contents of the three suitcases on the floor. Shoes, sweaters, underwear, motor parts, tee shirts, bolts and jeans were all part of the small mountain that had sprung up. Digging through and making an even greater mess she managed to pull out most of her underwear and warm socks and a few sweaters.

Everything had to be cleaned before it could be packed again so Mac began the dreaded chore of laundry. She decided to give Lexie a call while she waited for her clothes, grabbing her cell phone she hit speed dial and headed down stairs for a quick check on everything before she left. As she passed Lexie's door she could hear the familiar ring tone that was her own. Just as she was about to knock Lexie's voice mail picked up. Mac knocked on the door as she hung up the phone. Calling out to Lexie she went inside and looked around. Nothing was out of place and Mac could see the evidence that the woman had been here. She knew Lex had some things to take care of, but she never knew Lex to leave her cell phone behind. Searching the entire apartment Mac could find no sign that anything was wrong. She went downstairs with a small sense of worry creeping in.

In the studio, Mac began checking over everything. She found a pair of silks and webs still on their hooks, but raised up. Perhaps Lexie had been working out, but it was not like her to not put something away. She lowered the lines and was in the process of unhooking them when the buzzer for the front door sounded. She dropped the silk that she had just unclipped and started for the door when the sound of said door opened and closed and a familiar voice called out.

“Lexie, it's just me.” Greer called as she let herself in. Walking into the main room she stopped suddenly surprised to see Mac. “Mac! You're back, good to see you.”

Mac smiled appraisingly, Greer was dressed for the office in one of those sexy suits and she looked good. “Hi Greer, what are you doing here?”

Greer seemed to hesitate for only a moment. “I have some papers I need Lexie to look at and I've been trying to call, but all I get is her voice mail. Is she here?”

“No, I've been trying to reach her myself I think she's still on that business trip.”

Greer had closed the distance between the two of them and looked at Mac confused. “She was just here two days ago, she said she might be going away, I just thought I could catch her before she left.”

A small sense of relief came over Mac. “She must have needed to pick something up here first. She's always running off to take care of things. I can leave her a message to call you when she gets in.”

“She shouldn't have to do that so much, after all that's what she's paying me to do.” Greer shrugged wondering just how much she still had to learn about Lexie's businesses.

Time was running short for Mac as she began unhooking the web so she could get everything put away and go pack, she did have a plane to catch. “Oh I don't think it's so much business as personal, Lex has a lot going on, she has her own personal projects that none of the rest of us are involved in, so don't worry about it. Be glad it's one less thing on your plate, I know how vast her interests are and even I can't keep up with it all.” Mac finished putting the silks away. “Listen I have to finish packing myself and catch a cab to the airport, I'm suppose to be on a plane in…” she looked at her watch and grimaced, “two hours.”

“That's cutting it a bit short.” Greer laughed. “Why don't I give you a ride to the airport, go grab your bag.”

Mac had the decency to look embarrassed. “Yeah, I'm not finished packing, my clothes are still in the laundry.”

Giving the tall Scot an astonished look Greer laughed again. “Well come on then, lets see what we can do.”

They headed up stairs and Mac led Greer into her rooms. The first thing to greet Greer was a disaster of clothes and parts scattered across the floor.

“I haven't really had time to unpack yet.” Mac said as she hurriedly tossed some shirts off a chair and offered it to Greer. “Have a seat and I'll be right back.”

Mac ran to the laundry room and grabbed her stuff from the dryer; it was mostly dry, good enough for her needs. She sprinted back through to her bedroom where Greer followed. As Mac began shoving clothes into her duffel bag Greer stopped her.

“You can't just shove it in like that, you'll never get it to all fit. I'll help you fold.” Greer reached for a shirt and grimaced. “It's still damp.”

“That's okay I can dry it when I get back home.” Mac separated her socks and underwear and shoved them back in the bag; she was not folding underwear no matter what anyone said.

Greer held back her disgusted response and quickly folded the clothes. Soon they had everything packed and ready to go. Mac grabbed her duffel bag and threw her computer bag over her shoulder. The last thing she picked up was her jacket as they made their way through the debris in her sitting room. “All ready then.”

Greer picked up her briefcase and headed down stairs. She smiled to herself thinking about this new group of people who had come into her life and that she no longer felt alone. The thought occurred to her that life might never be dull again.



Had it been the middle of the day, no doubt a few unsuspecting tourists would have been stunned beyond belief at the sight of three women appearing from thin air. Lucky for the trio there was barely a sliver of moon and the blanket of stars overhead provided no real light to see by. Lexie had excellent night vision and looked around at her surroundings. She could see the remains of an old temple and knew immediately where they had traveled to. They were in Lexie's homeland and standing before one of her mother's old temples.

Dropping her mother's hand Lexie turned a full three hundred and sixty degrees, taking in everything around her before stopping to face Artemis. “ Greece ? We had to come to Greece to find a ley line?”

“This is Delos .” Artemis spread her arms out indicating where they were. “The strongest most powerful line runs through my temple here. If your mortal is using the system of ley lines to draw power this is how you will find them. Come.” Without another word Artemis turned and walked into what was left of her temple.

The building was missing its roof and most of the walls, many of the support columns had toppled, but some remained. A sense of greatness still permeated throughout the place. Sadness tried to creep into Lexie's thoughts. This had been a temple dedicated to her mother, her greatest temple, and now it was nothing but some archeological ruin. No matter what Lexie personally thought of the whole Gods thing, she could not help thinking how temporary and fickle mortals were with their loyalty.

“It is a shame people don't take care of things the way they use to.” Athena whispered into Lexie's ear as she stepped up and placed a hand on her daughters shoulder.

Lexie spared a glance at her mom and made an attempt at a smile then followed her mother into the temple.

Once this space had held beautiful statues and paintings of Artemis. Braziers lined the walls and candles sat upon either end of an altar. A low bench for offerings had a place before the altar and priestesses would have been in attendance at all times. Now a few broken stones were the only evidence of the bench and the enormous altar stones had collapsed in on themselves. Broken, everything seemed broken. Artemis waited beside the pile of stone for her companions to catch up.

“Now what?” Lexie asked as she stood beside her mother.

“We must place you on the altar to draw the greatest power.”

Looking at the pile of stones Lexie grimaced. “Oh, that's going to be comfortable.”

Artemis almost rolled her eyes at her daughters' sarcasm. “That's not my altar, that was for the priestesses.” She thrust her left hand out towards the collapsed altar and the stones went flying across the ground like ping pong balls. The only thing remaining was the large base stone set into the ground.

“Allow me darling.” Athena made a rising motion with her right hand and the massive stone slowly rose out of the ground dribbling dirt into the new hole. The smell of stale air rushed out causing Lexie to hold her breath for a moment. Moving the stone to the side and gently setting it down with a graceful movement of her hand, Athena gave her wife a strained smile as the foul air caused her eyes to water.

Left before them was a large hole with stone stairs leading down into the darkness. A darkness that was completely absent of light gave even Lexie trouble seeing.

As Athena descended the stairs she snagged a torch just inside the opening and lit it. Artemis stopped and looked back surprised. “Darling you may know this dungeon by heart but I prefer not to have our daughter take the express lane down.” Her wife gave her a plain look as if to say ‘whatever' while their daughter tried to hold back a laugh.

Lexie never knew what to expect when she was around her parents, sometimes they were fun and relaxed, at others they were extremely intense. And their moods could turn on a dime. So far this time she was lucky to have the fun parents.

The bottom of the stairs led to a narrow tunnel which curved several times before opening into a large cavern. The three entered and Lexie stood looking around while Athena set about lighting torches that hung on the walls of the circular room. Lexie had never been in this part of her mother's temple. Symbols of Artemis were carved into the walls around the entire space. The ceiling was dome shaped and at the top of the dome, directly above the massive altar was a carved full moon. The ceiling surrounding the moon was inset with crystals that caught the torchlight and twinkled like stars. The stone floor had a wide line scribed from one wall to the other with the altar placed directly in the middle. Beneath its altar was a central intersection with hundreds of faintly scribed lines shooting out in all directions from the main line. This was the central point of power for the ley lines, a power which her mother oversaw.

As Lexie moved closer to the large slab she could feel the power that converged there. Her mother had both hands resting on the stone, content to feel the power reach out and comfort her. Hopping up to sit on her altar, Artemis beckoned her daughter over.

There was no ceremony to perform; the roads of the ley lines were Artemis' domain, the power a part of her. Lexie stretched out atop the alter settling her head in her mothers lap. Athena stood guard over her two most beloved people; she would protect their bodies from any outside harm while they remained in a trance like state. Artemis would add her power to Lexie's so that her daughter could move quickly and more accurately read the pulls that were being drawn from the lines, a sort of power boost if you will. While the power of the lines is strong and can seek out a person's darker side, Lexie's main danger was in finding the mage and having them become aware of her. Whoever this was had tapped into the dark powers of the lines and was slowly growing more powerful. She needed to find the source and get out without alerting them to her presence.

Closing her eyes and relaxing, Lexie allowed her consciousness to sink down into the flowing energy of the lines. She could feel the strength of her mother wrapping around her and urging her forward. With a speed that surprised even Lexie she began following the pulls of power, briefly touching on hundreds of pulls and moving on.

Below ground in the temple's hidden chamber Athena watched her daughters rapidly moving closed eyelids and shallow breath for any changes. Her senses were on alert for any type of intruder, but she felt a bit helpless. All she could do was watch and wait and make sure nothing harmed her girls while they were unconscious. Lexie was the protector of mankind; her job was to protect them from nonhuman threats, those things which mortals were not very knowledgeable of. And while Athena and Artemis could help her with immortals and supernatural beings, they had learned a long time ago to let Lexie handle things on her own. Athena smiled down at her daughter, proud of her independence, strength and sense of responsibility. She was confident that Lexie could handle anything that came her way. Still a mother worried.

The night passed and Lexie had touched on more dark forces then she cared to know about, but none of them were sinister enough for what she sought. Every crossroad sent her in another direction and Lexie was beginning to wonder if there was any pattern to her movements or if she was just wandering randomly. With determination she pushed forward with greater force and several cross roads later she felt a pull so great she knew it must be her target. As she approached the source she felt a surge of dark power that threatened to pull her in. She tried to avoid the tug and by-pass it but she seemed to be stuck. All of a sudden she had the sensation of hurdling backwards. The grey misty landscape of the lines rushed past her until she felt as though she had hit a wall.

Bolting upright Lexie gasped for air, her eyes flew open and it took a moment for her to focus her dark grey eyes on the lighter grey of her mom's. Athena held Lexie's face in her hands and was telling her to relax and breath. Once the hammering of her heart no longer pounded in her ears she could feel her mother at her back, arms wrapped around her pinning Lexie's arms to her sides and she could finally hear her mom's gentle words.

“What happened? I couldn't move.” Lexie asked trying to look over her shoulder.

Stroking her daughter's hair with one hand while still holding her with the other Artemis rested her cheek on the top of Lexie's head. “It was a trap.” Seeing the surprised look on her wife's face she explained. “You found your source, but they are pulling so much power from the lines that the dark force itself is actually pulling anyone in who is traveling that line. It could have drained you of all your power to then be used by the mage.”

Lexie jumped down and choosing to ignore the comment about her power, began to slowly pace. “Can I sever the link?”

Artemis swung her legs over the side of the slab but continued to sit and watch her daughter. “This is a deep dark magic, only through death can the link be broken.”

“No problem.” Lexie looked at her mother. “What about the creatures he has taken?”

“I've been thinking about that.” Athena spoke up. “This person is using the power of the lines to steal away the creatures and keep them under control. From what you've said they're being tortured, which is probably coming from the darkness, so the mage is funneling the power directly into their prisoners and it is amping them up and destroying them. What if the mage's power is directing the darkness to them because to take that much dark power into its self would destroy them?”

Lexie walked over to her mother. “There's only one way to know for sure. Where was the source?” From the moment she had felt the pull to the moment Artemis yanked her out had only been a couple of seconds and Lexie could not tell where they were, but she knew that her mother, the guardian of the ley lines would know exactly where they were at all times.

Artemis slid down to stand before her daughter. “Let us help you, these powers you will face can swallow your soul.”

“Someone has taken our people and are using them against mortals. That makes this my problem, this is in my domain and I will take care of it.” Lexie knew she was not as powerful as her parents, but this was her job and she would protect the people, as was her birthright. “Now where am I going?

Athena gently cupped her wife's elbow and gave her a reassuring nod. She could see how worried Artemis was, but Lexie was right and she had to do this alone. She would do this and nothing could stop her, because from the time Lexie was born she had been the most stubborn person either of her parents had ever known. The small child had thought the Gods were weak and hid behind their powers so she set out to do things her own way. It was not that Lexie did not possess the same powers of both her parents and a few more to boot; she simply refused to acknowledge and was unwilling to use them. If the mortal world was her realm then she wanted to be as much a part of them as she could.

“ Scotland .” Artemis looked at her daughter and reached for her hand. Taking it she pulled the woman to her. “Be safe and end this.” She whispered with as much authority and insistence as she could.

Athena lovingly looked down at her eternal lover and their daughter. How alike they were, the same dark hair and brilliant blue eyes except at that moment Lexie's were more like her own grey ones. Artemis was only a few inches taller than her daughter but they both had the same stubborn set to their jaws. Athena towered over her loved ones by several inches and easily pulled them both in placing a kiss atop both their heads.

“I need to get back home.” Lexie said looking up at her mom.

“As soon as we put the stones back in place we're out of here.” Artemis agreed as she took her wife's hand and led them out of the chamber. The torches died as Athena blew a puff of air into the chamber and grabbed the one she had come in with. Lexie followed closely behind watching her parents and thinking just how lucky they were to have each other.



Instead of taking Lexie home Artemis detoured them. Lexie looked around expecting to see her house, instead she was standing in a villa over looking a large lake with surrounding mountains and forest and several islands dotting the lake.

Looking around Lexie turned to her mother with a demanding look. “What is this?”

“I will take you home, but first there is something I must show you, it will help you with the task you must undertake.”

Lexie watched as her mother disappeared down a hallway. “But where are we?”

“ Lake Prespa .” Athena informed her as she crossed over to a bowl of fruit sitting on a low table. “Here Lexie you really should eat something.” Athena handed her daughter a pear.

“ Macedonia ? But why, I don't have time for this.” Lexie responded as she took the fruit.

“Because your mother wants to help, so please for once would you just let her.” Athena stroked Lexie's cheek imploring her to indulge Artemis. Hearing her wife returning she moved to a far corner and took a seat, giving mother and daughter a moment.

Artemis entered the room reverently carrying a sword. She approached Lexie and offered it to her with both hands. Lexie looked at the beautiful weapon with a bit of awe and surprise. “I want you to take this with you Lexie.” Artemis offered the sword to her daughter.

“This is your sword Mother, I can't, this is the sword of the Amazons.”

Smiling down at her daughter Artemis was glad to see that the girl had the proper respect for the weapon; she was glad but not surprised. “Yes, the Amazons are my people and you are my daughter and I am asking you to be there champion because even they are not safe from the darkness.”

Lexie breathed deeply through her nose and let it out through her mouth. The calming effect was immediate. She reached out running light fingers over the blade until reaching the hilt. Wrapping her hand around it she gently lifted the sword holding it up and out to her side. She had been expecting it to be much heavier, but the weight was just enough and the balance was perfect. It had a wider blade than her katana but was about the same length, the double edge blade tapered down to a stout point. Artemis' symbol was carved into the butt of the hilt and around it were the ancient symbols of the Amazons.

Athena joined them now and held out the scabbard and back harness for Lexie to put on. She helped her daughter into it then stepped back as Lexie wielded the sword in a few intricate movements before smoothly sheathing it on her back. The hilt could just be seen over her left ear.

“Thank you, I am honored, it is one of the most perfect swords I have ever held.”

“I had Hephaestus make it for me, it can not be broken.” Artemis smiled at her daughter. “I know how good you are with that katana of yours, but maybe you could use an extra sword with you this time.”

Lexie couldn't help the small smile that crept up on her lips. She knew her mother was not fond of her katana; she had nothing against the sword itself, just the reason she had been given the gift. “I shall wield it with pride.”

Reaching out Athena took her daughters hand and gave it a little squeeze. “It's time.” She said before they all shimmered out of view.



A regular routine had settled in around the Diodorus household and Greer found herself taking a walk after dinner in the park while trying hard not to think about one small infuriatingly charming, dark haired, blue-eyed woman. However the harder she tried the more she would think about the way the sun brought out the red in that dark hair and how there were times those blue eyes had a small halo of grey around them.

Groaning inwardly Greer was overwhelmed with the feeling that she was doomed. Realizing that she needed some kind of distraction she set her mind to the task of going through and reading all of Lexie's files. So far she had only gone over the ones that her father had told her were the most important. She knew eventually she would have to familiarize herself with all the files so why not now. After all if she could not have Lexie here with her she could have the next best thing, her business interest. Did she just think that? Groaning again Greer grimaced at the nerd she had become. Under no circumstances ever should paperwork be a substitute for human companionship. Unwilling to think of herself as pathetic an idea came to her that if she knew more about Lexie then they would have more to talk about and she could feel like she was actually getting to know the woman. That sounded better, so with a quick step she turned around and headed back home.



It was late but Lexie was home at last. First thing, she jumped in the shower to rinse off some of the dirt and grime from the temple then quickly donned her leathers and standard black tank top. As she sat on the foot of the bed pulling her boots on her mother entered the room and leaned against the doorframe admiring her daughter.

Noticing the worn soft leather and scuffed black boots Artemis slowly shook her head and smiled. “Lexie, if you didn't look so damned good in those leathers I would tell you to expand your wardrobe.”

Eyeing her mothers' leather belt and boots Lexie grinned. “I guess a leather fetish must just run in the family.”

“She's right you know, it wasn't that long ago that you were running around in that skimpy little leather outfit with your Amazons.” Athena smiled down at her wife with fond memories of said outfit as she stepped into the room.

Lexie watched the interaction between her parents and like any child she rolled her eyes at them. “Get a room you two.” She said as she stepped past them to the room that held her weapons vault. Punching in the code she threw the door open wide and stepped in followed by Artemis and Athena. As Lexie began looking through her collection and arming herself her parents stood just inside the threshold and looked around in stunned silence. The shear number and assortment of sharp and pointy weapons was staggering.

“Sweetheart, I think leather is not the only fetish you have.” Athena voiced as she admiringly fingered a small throwing labrys.

“Excuse me.” Lexie said as she moved her mother aside so she could open a wide thin drawer below the cabinets of swords. Artemis peeled her eyes away from the assortment of sais to see what her daughter was looking for. Lexie opened drawer after drawer of throwing knives trying to find the sets she knew were there somewhere. As soon as her belt, boots and vest were full she stood up and looked at her mother. Artemis was still staring at the now closed drawers of knives with her mouth hanging open.

Tipping the chin closed with a gentle finger Lexie guided the two awe struck goddesses out into the hall and made sure the door was securely locked. Adjusting her katana under her arm she made her way back to her bedroom to get the Amazon sword and her long coat.

Following behind Artemis leaned in to her wife's side and asked. “Honey, why don't we have a room like this?”

Athena smiled and placed a kiss atop the dark brown hair. “Because our locked room contains items more along the lines of pleasure not pain.”

From her bedroom Lexie called out disgustedly. “Ugh, I can hear you and I really don't want to!”

A familiar ringtone sounded from the living room where Lexie had left her phone before she was whisked away to Greece . Tossing her jacket and sword onto the sofa she checked her messages.

Mac had gotten a red flag about people being burned to a crisp in Finland ; the suspicious part was that all their clothes were still in tact. With a sinking feeling in her stomach Lexie punched in her most used speed dial number and waited for Mac to answer. Before Mac could say hello Lexie demanded information.

Listening to the details Lexie's eyes started turning a dark grey as a dark mood washed over her. Entering the living room the smiling couple quickly sobered as they watched their daughters face fall. Lexie managed a quiet thanks to her best friend then hung up. “Damn it!” She yelled as she threw the phone down on the sofa.

Athena watched the small instrument bounce off the seat and land on the floor near her foot. She could easily see her daughter was in distress. “What's happened?”

“It's Larice.” Lexie said as she began to pace. “She just surfaced in Finland and is torching people.” Coming to a sudden stop Lexie began undoing her katana. She pulled off her vest and tossed the knives from her belt onto the growing pile on the sofa.

“What are you doing?” Artemis asked concerned that her child was about to do something rash.

“I'm going to get Larice and take her home.” Lexie tossed the last two knives out of her boots and headed for the coat closet.

Artemis was close on her heals. “She's out of control Lex, you need to take your sword.”

Pulling a knit cap out of her winter coat pocket Lexie jammed it on her head and began shoving her hair up in it. “No, I told Hades I would bring her home.” She could see the frustration in her mothers' eyes. “I promised Percy. I will not do anything to hurt her.”

Unsure of exactly whom Lexie was speaking of, Percy or Larice, Athena stepped over to join the conversation. “So what are you going to do?” Athena asked as she reached over to tuck in a piece of hair Lexie had missed.

With a steely determination Lexie met her mom's eyes. “What I always do, I'm going to put out the fire.” Checking her pants pocket for the stone Percy had given her she looked around to see if there was anything else she needed. She was leaving all her weapons and her long leather coat behind because that was her hunting uniform and she wanted Larice to see that she meant no harm. With a slow nod to herself she turned to Athena. “Could you get me to Helsinki ? The northern end, I can take it from there.” Lexie watched as her parents shared a worried look. “I'll be fine, this is all in a days work for me. It could take some time though so I'll call you when I'm done.” Giving them a small smile, and a final nod letting Athena know she was ready, in the blink of an eye she was standing on a very cold dark street in a northern suburb of Helsinki .



Almost two hundred years ago Lexie had spent some time here tracking down a particularly violent and disgruntled clan of dryads in the northern woods. After dispatching the leaders the rest of the clan had an easier time seeing reason and calming down. And while the city had undergone a lot of changes it was still familiar to her.

Finding a quiet spot Lexie closed her eyes and reached out with what Mac referred to as her ‘Spidy senses'. She was seeking disturbances in the energy around her. Quite a few disturbances could be felt nearby, but as Lexie pushed out further she caught the edges of a fear and desperation much like she had experienced with the jackal and banshee.

Looking around to make sure she was alone, Lexie took off at an inhuman speed. She easily tracked her target, cutting across lawns and small squares until she entered a wooded park at the end of a residential neighborhood. Lexie slowed somewhat as she moved through the woods until she came upon a small clearing. There on the other side curled up next to a fallen log sat Larice weeping. Slowly and quietly Lexie stepped closer until she was standing in front of the tormented figure.

“Larice.” Lexie whispered.

At the mention of her name the girl looked up in terror. She tried to push back but was impeded by the log behind her.

Lexie held both her hands out in a peaceful gesture. “Larice, my name's Lexie, I've come to take you home.”

“Stay away from me, I have no home.” The girl shouted as she scrambled to her feet.

Before the frightened nymph could take off Lexie stepped closer and gripped both her arms. “Yes you do and they have been desperately worried about you.” Lexie could feel heat radiating off the trembling body and knew things were about to get ugly. “Larice please, Hades sent me to fine you.”

At the mention of Hades name Larice's entire body burst into flame as she screamed her protest at being held. Lexie could feel her hands starting to blister as the rest of her skin heated up. “Aw hell.” Lexie muttered as she wrapped both arms around the body that was no bigger than her own, knowing the girl did not trust or believe her. The heat was causing her eyes to dry and her vision to blur. Excruciating pain ripped through her, but Lexie refused to let go, even as her entire body began to burn.

Larice struggled to get away, but Lexie only held tighter. She tried calming the girl by telling her of Hades distress over her disappearance. The lampiade refused to believe her thinking she had been abandoned by Hades. Larice kept fighting as Lexie's skin began to bubble. It was only at the mention of Persephone's name that Larice paused in her struggles.

“That's right, Percy, she misses you and she is so scarred she will never see you again.” Noticing that the girls kicking and thrashing was lessening she took advantage and grabbed the stone from her pocket. Larice seemed to calm considerably upon seeing the stone, she looked into Lexie's dark grey eyes and seemed to remember something. Blowing a smoking breath over the stone Lexie called out. “Percy, bring us home.”

Still aflame the twined figures disappeared from the dark woods only to reappear a second later in the Great Hall of Hades. The moment they appeared the air near them parted and Percy stepped through to welcome her dear friend back. The sight that greeted her was not what she was expecting. In front of her stood Lexie and Larice in flames.

Hearing Percy's scream Lexie let go of the burning girl and stumbled back. Hades had also heard the scream and ran in just in time to scoop Larice up and cradle her in his arms before she could flee. The flames had no effect on him so he held tight. He immediately began comforting the girl with soothing words as he held her close and slowly the flames extinguished themselves as Larice clung desperately to Hades neck sobbing hysterically.

Persephone had run to Lexie's side the moment Larice backed away. Without the source of fire, the flames quickly died out on Lexie's skin. Percy did not want to touch her niece because everywhere she could see skin it was burned so badly that it was turning black and oozing. “Lexie, oh sweetie.”

Lexie used the last of her strength to look up at the frightened face before her. “You never told me she was a total little hottie.” She attempted to smile but it came out as a gruesome sneer. With her strength quickly ebbing away Lexie collapsed on the floor.

Hades watched as Lexie fell and he closed his eyes with the guilt of having put his niece in that position, but Larice was not stable and he had to take care of her first. He told Percy to take care of Lexie and he would be back as quickly as he could. Hades took off down a long hallway in search of Larice's sister lampiades. Together he hoped they could bring Larice back from whatever prison her mind was still trapped in.

Tears were rolling down Percy's cheeks as she knelt beside the charred body. “Oh Lex, what do I do.”

One red and dark grey eye opened trying to focus on the figure by her side. “Get Paulie.” Lexie croaked in a dry raspy voice before passing out again.

Lexie had always been the calmest and most rational person in the middle of a crisis, even when she was the one in crisis. “Right.” Percy nodded to the unconscious form and disappeared.

Late at night was Paulie's favorite time to work in her lab at the clinic. She could do her research without any interruptions. At her desk she was writing down some notes when a gorgeous tall woman with dark hair and eyes appeared by her side. While not in the habit of having people just appear in front of her, Paulie stood stock-still looking at the woman with a startled expression. “Hello?”

Even though they had never met, Percy knew all about Paulie from Lexie and she would have known the petite doctor anywhere. “It's Lexie, she's been burned and it's bad.” Percy exclaimed without hesitation, her eyes begging that Paulie understand the urgency as tears dried on her face.

Paulie did not know who or what this woman was, but the mention of Lexie's name propelled the doctor into action. Picking up a duffel bag as she hurried out of the room Paulie called over her shoulder. “How bad?”

“Bad.” Was all Percy could manage.

Throwing open the door to the supply closet Paulie began shoving bandages, IV lines and fluid bags, medicine and ointments into her bag, anything that she might need to treat a burn. She rushed past the distraught woman again to grab her emergency bag. Percy almost ran into her as Paulie returned, holding the two loaded bags. With a set jaw she looked up at the woman. “I'm Paulie.”

“Percy.” Acknowledging the other woman with a nod, Percy then transported them back to where Lexie still lay in the great hall. In total she had been gone four minutes.

Appearing in the warmly lit great hall only freaked Paulie out a little bit, but when she caught sight of the blackened body on the floor her breath left her. Falling to her knees beside her friend she could feel tears welling up in her eyes. “Bloody hell Lexie, what have you done?” Paulie whispered then immediately pushed down her emotions in order to see to her patient.

Now fully in doctor mode Paulie began giving orders. “We need to get her on that table over there.” She pointed to the long banquet table at the other end of the room. She was trying to figure out how to lift the small body without causing further damage or pain when Percy stepped forward.

“Allow me.” Percy said as she motioned with her hands and began moving towards the table, Lexie floating in the air before her. Chairs flew out from around the table as Lexie came to a gentle rest atop the wooden surface. A pitiful cry escaped the cracked and blistered lips. “Sorry Lex.” Percy cried.

Paulie was already pulling supplies out of her bags and lining up everything she would need on the table. Looking up she caught Percy with a deadly serious glare. “I'm going to need your help, are you up for this?”

Taking a deep breath to stiffen her resolve Percy nodded once and straightened her shoulders. “Tell me what you need.”

Handing a pair of scissors to the taller woman Paulie ordered her to get Lexie's clothes off. She then proceeded to explain that because Lexie's body regenerated itself whenever it was damaged she was going to have to remove the charred and blackened skin other wise it would not heal but create a painful cocoon around Lexie. Paulie would have to cut the damaged skin away until clean raw flesh was exposed.

Percy looked up from cutting Lexie's boots off. “Have you ever done this before?”

“Yes.” Paulie said with a grimace then looked up to meet the warm brown eyes. “It's a vampyre thing. The sun can do real damage to our skin.” She looked down and was shocked to see that under Lexie's unscathed clothes the body was completely charred. “Later you're going to tell me what could do this right?”

“Right.” Percy continued to clear away the unscathed clothes. The last thing she removed was the knit cap Lexie had put on at the last moment. She could see blisters on Lexie's scalp, but her hair was untouched. Percy could only blink in amazement.

By the time Paulie was ready to begin cutting away the blackened skin, Percy had Lexie lying on a clean sheet with a metal basin to catch the discarded flesh. Paulie gave her patient enough morphine to comatose an elephant, but as the first piece of flesh was cut away Lexie screamed in agony. Taking a deep breath Paulie steeled herself to continue on, there was nothing more she could do except get the damaging skin off as quickly as possible.

Blood curdling screams the likes of which belonged in Tartarus filled the mansion and all of its occupants cowered as far from the sound as possible. Once Larice was safely being cared for by her sisters Hades made his way to the great hall to see what in his domain was going on.

Striding into the room with purpose, the first thing that caught Hades eyes was a small woman with a scalpel cutting the skin from a body lying on his banquet table as his wife doused the skin with saline each time she was ordered to. With each step his stride faltered until he came to a stumbling halt beside his screaming niece.

Paulie was working as fast as she could in order not to prolong Lexie's pain. Without looking up she ordered the new arrival to help her turn Lexie over. Hades looked at the small woman as if she had lost her mind coming into his home and ordering him around.

“Now!” Paulie barked.

Blinking once Hades lifted Lexie and turned her over without touching her. He left the body suspended a couple of inches off the table thinking she would feel better if nothing were touching her newly exposed flesh.

Paulie looked up for the first time. “Good thinking.” Pleased with this new development she went back to work.

It had taken most of an hour to remove all the damaged skin. With a layer of burn gel and antibiotics now covering her body Lexie finally seemed to be resting comfortably. An IV line provided fluids and a morphine drip kept the pain at a level that allowed Lexie to rest. Once Paulie cleaned and put away her instruments she made her way over to where Percy and the man were talking in hushed tones.

For the first time Paulie got a good look at the man who was keeping Lexie in a suspended state. He was ruggedly handsome but his bronze tanned skin was looking decidedly pale. “She's resting, I want to keep her unconscious as long as possible, knowing Lexie we should see improvement in a few days, her mouth and eyes are already showing signs of healing.”

Hades wrapped a strong arm around Percy's shoulders and kissed the top of her head as relief washed over him. He was pretty sure the damage would not have killed Lexie, but it could have left her permanently scarred and in continuous pain. “Thank you, we owe you a debt of gratitude.”

“Unless you are the one who did this to her you owe me nothing. I would do anything for Lexie.” Paulie continued to glare at the man. “So you are?”

Extending his hand, “Hades,” a small smile graced the lord of the underworld's lips.

Blinking twice Paulie's eyebrows shot up. Slowly she reached out and shook the offered hand. “Paulie. Nice to meet you.” Looking between the two beautiful people in front of her she began to quickly put things together. “So you are…”

“Lexie's uncle.” Hades provided for her.

“And Percy? Persephone. So you're…”

“Lexie's family.” Percy answered and smiled down at the woman who was showing the first sign of fluster.

“Oh hell.” Paulie muttered.

“That's one way of looking at it.” Hades smiled and looked behind the small doctor to where Lexie floated sleeping naked in his dinning hall. “Do you think it we could move her to a more private room, a lot of people come through here at times and I don't want anyone disturbing her.”

For the first time since arriving Paulie smiled briefly. “I think that would be a good idea. Do you have one with two beds, because I'm not going anywhere until I know she's alright.”

“I think that can be arranged.” Hades replied as he moved with her towards his sleeping niece. Percy slipped off down the hall to prepare the room while the two others prepared to move their patient.



Life in the underworld was not as depressing as Paulie thought it might be. In fact except for the reason she was there Paulie had a good time during her short tenure in Tartarus. She was made to feel welcome by both Hades and Percy, who turned out to be absolute perfect hosts.

Lexie slept for the better part of a week as her flesh worked through the process of healing. She slept through a visit by her parents, who thanked Paulie for her quick action and continued care of their daughter. They left knowing Lexie was in good hands. However before leaving Artemis let Hades know just how unhappy she was with him. A thoroughly chastised Hades apologized and promised the best of everything would be at her disposal while Lexie was in his care. Athena stood back along with Percy and tried to swallow the laughter that threatened to bubble up from seeing how her uncle the mighty Hades was practically cowering before her diminutive wife.

Once Paulie got accustomed to the house's pet, a three-headed dog named Cerberus; she would often find him lying beside Lexie's bed. One head keeping constant watch over the sleeping woman, one head snoozing and one head wanting to be scratched and petted. When Cerberus was not with Lexie he could be found outside Larice's door, protecting both her and the house. Only Hades, Percy and the other lampiades were allowed to see Larice. The girl was still caught in the dark magic of the mage and would occasionally lash out. Only the death of the mage or Larice could sever the link.

The morphine drip was removed once a new layer of skin had formed and Lexie could be lowered onto a bed. On the sixth day Lexie opened her eyes to see Paulie asleep in a chair next to her with one of Cerberuses large heads asleep in her lap. The other two heads were happily looking at her as if to say ‘you sure do take long naps'. Lexie tried to speak but her throat was so dry and scratchy it sounded more like a chipmunk had gotten caught in a drainpipe. Paulie instantly awoke at the noise and was relieved to see light grey eyes staring back at her. She quickly jumped up startling the sleeping dog and sending it running out of the room barking the news that Lexie was awake.

Before Lexie could ask, Paulie poured a glass of water put a straw in it and held it up to her parched lips. Three glasses later Lexie smiled as she was finally able to speak. “Hello Pauline.”

The small doctor breathed a sigh of relief and placed the empty glass on a nearby table. When she turned to face Lexie the gold flecks in her brown eyes were flashing with anger. “Don't you hello me Lexie Artem, what the hell were you thinking? Do you realize I just had to remove most of the skin on your body because it had been char broiled? Don't you ever do that to me again. You looked like a bricket from the bar-b-que.”

Lexie kept quiet as her friend ranted. She pursed her lips to keep back a smile but her eyes sparkled at the fire she always seemed to spark in Paulie.

Outside the door Percy waited and listened as the pent up anxiety that Paulie had been holding in was finally released. The British woman had never said a word to her about it, but the strain was evident on her tired face. The love she had for Lexie was abundantly clear for all to see.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself Paulie easily slipped back into her professional mode. “Now, how are you feeling?” She asked the smirking face looking up at her.

“Hungry.” Lexie replied and smiled as she reached out for Paulie's hand.

“I think that's something I can take care of.” Percy announced as she stepped into the room and made her way to Lexie's bedside. Brushing hair off the reddened forehead she leaned down and gently kissed the sensitive skin. “Thank you little one.” Percy whispered as a tear escaped and fell on the pillow next to Lexie's head. Straightening up she flashed a grateful smile at Paulie and headed for the door. “I'll be right back with your dinner.”

Lexie watched Percy leave then looked up to catch the worried look in Paulie's eyes. “Come here you.”

Paulie stood rather stiffly as Lexie tugged at her fingers. “What do you need?”

Grabbing Paulie's wrist Lexie held firmly and pulled the woman towards her. “You, now come here.”

Unable to resist, Paulie sat on the bed and placed both hands on either side of Lexie's head. She allowed herself to be pulled down to the soft warm lips of her dearest friend. The kiss only lasted a moment then Paulie pulled back just enough to be able to look into the soft grey eyes. She smiled and breathed in Lexie's scent, a sweet heady intoxicating smell that washed away the memory of the smell of burnt flesh. “I miss it when they're not blue.” She smiled again at the bright red face. “Blue is a happy Lexie.”

“I'm happy you're here.” Lexie told her old friend. She placed another gentle kiss on the fair doctors lips just as Hades walked into the room.

In an exasperated tone Hades asked, “Do you make out with every woman you know?” as he made his way to Lexie's side.

Paulie pulled away with a start, but Lexie held onto her enough to keep her sitting on the bed by her side. Lexie smiled up at the man as he leaned down to gently kiss the top of her head. “Only the beautiful ones Uncle.”

Straightening up he gave her his best raised eyebrow before relenting. “Good point.”

The sound of a trolley could be heard coming down the hall while the delicious aroma of mouthwatering food preceded it. Percy rolled the cart into the room and laughed as Lexie's stomach began to rumble loudly. “I guess I got here just in time.” She tossed a roll to Lexie to munch on while she loaded a plate with everything Lexie pointed to. Paulie took the plate from Percy and began to feed Lexie despite the protests from the small woman that she could do it herself.

“Lexie, Paulie is still your doctor, and you will follow her orders.” Hades spoke in his most authoritative voice. Lexie made a show of giving in, but a small part of her was actually enjoying not having to move so much, her entire body ached and her skin hurt with even the slightest movement. Watching his niece comply Hades gave a small nod and walked over to join his wife. “Good. Paulie I believe you have everything well under control so we'll leave you to it.” He reached out and took Percy's hand then turned back to Lexie. “Oh and Lexie, thank you for bringing her home.”

Lexie gave her uncle a solemn nod because she knew Larice still had a long way to go before she would truly be home. “She's family.”

Unable to clear the lump in his throat, Hades acknowledged Lexie's sacrifice with his eyes and a slight nod. Pulling his wife close they left the two women to eat their dinner.



Three days of poring over dusty old files had given Greer a headache and a long list of questions. Lexie's holdings were not just vast but bizarre and eclectic in a lot of cases and some simply made no sense what so ever. The woman owned property all over the world; most of her investments seemed to in some way help people. She owned pieces of antiquity that were on permanent loan to several prominent museums. And she was somehow involved in medical research, with grants and ownership of research labs.

It was late afternoon and when Greer closed the last file in her fathers locked cabinet. She looked at the yellow legal pad she had filled with notes and began flipping the pages. Sheet after sheet offered questions about Lexie's business ties. All these questions about Lexie's business only led Greer to even more questions about the petit woman's private life. Before her office marathon, Greer had been interested in the mystery that was Lexie, now she was so intrigued it verged on obsession.

Picking up her cell phone, Greer hit the speed dial button for the small woman herself. The phone picked up and once again she listened to Mac asking her to leave a message. Greer refused to leave another message, she had been leaving messages for four days and she was now beginning to get mad. The least Lexie could do was return a simple phone call. Shoving the phone in her pocket Greer picked up her tablet of notes and went looking for the one person she knew she could get a straight answer from. At least that is what she had always thought.

The kitchen smelled of baking bread and Mrs. Stark was peeling apples for a cobbler that would be tonight's dessert when Greer walked in and began making herself a cup of tea.

“Would you like me to make you a cup Mrs. Stark?” Greer offered as she filled the kettle.

The older woman briefly smiled down at her hands that were briskly coring an apple. “No thank you dear, I want to get these apples on before long.”

Greer got her giant sized tea mug out of the cabinet and placed it on the counter with a teabag then took a seat at the table across from the plump woman she had known her whole life. She watched the dexterous hands as they flawlessly went about their task. As a child Greer loved to sit in the kitchen and watch Mrs. Stark cook, it gave her a feeling of comfort. Her mother had tried to teach her when she was really little to make a cake, but all the two had succeeded in making was a mess out of the entire kitchen. It was Mrs. Stark who had come to the rescue and Mrs. Stark who eventually taught Greer how to cook.

“Mrs. Stark, how long have you known Lexie?” Greer asked innocently as she stole a slice of apple from the woman's bowl.

“What kind of a question is that? She's your father's client and has been coming to the house for years.”

“I've just been trying to catch up on Papa's files and Lexie is a big part of that.” As the kettle started to whistle Greer jumped up and fixed her tea. “She's… different, unique, special you might say.”

Glancing at the girl as she returned to her seat Mrs. Stark wondered just what it was that Greer was after. “Yes she is different. And probably one of the most special people I have ever met.” She knew Greer was probing for information, but the answers she sought could only come from one person. “I consider it an honor to call her my friend. Lexie is complex and she has more layers than an onion, and she can frustrate the life out you, but the only thing about Lexie that really matters is that she has a good heart and a truly good soul.” Picking up her bowl of sliced fruit Mrs. Stark moved to the counter to make her cobbler. She paused for a moment and gave Greer a very motherly look. “You need to put the papers aside Greer and get to know the woman.”

Greer sat a little stunned at Mrs. Stark's comments, and even more that she was unwilling to give out any real information about Lexie. Gathering her notepad and tea she stood to leave. “Thanks, I think I'll go see how Papa is doing.”

Joseph and Ginny were playing cards in the den. The soft sound of classical music gently played from the compact stereo set into one of the bookcases. Greer could not help the smile that spread across her face at seeing her father enjoying himself. The man had a sharp mind and it was good to know that it had not suffered from the stroke as Joseph's motor skills had.

Greer walked over to the window where the two were deeply engrossed in their game. “Better watch out Ginny, my Papa is quite the card shark, what ever you do don't make a bet with him.”

Picking up a card Ginny smiled and threw her hand down on the table. “Gin!” She looked up at Greer and winked as Joseph threw down his cards in defeat. “I think I'm pretty safe, I was Rummy champ at my boarding school.”

Joseph looked at the woman in shock at this news then ‘harrumphed' as best he could. He was a darn good card player and did not like to lose, and so far he had not won a single game.

Taking pity on her father Greer leaned down and kissed his temple. “How are you doing today Papa? Besides losing your shirt at cards.” He tried his best to shoot a smirk her way but it looked more like a silly face he use to make at her when she was little. “Well then maybe you don't want to know that we are having apple cobbler for dessert.”

Instantly there was a sparkle in Joseph's eyes, Mrs. Stark's cobbler was his favorite. Greer gave her father a playful smile before addressing Ginny. “Ginny, I have some question about a client that I need to discuss with my father, would you mind giving us a few moments.”

“Of course not dear,” the nurse said as she neatly gathered the cards and set them to the side, “I'll just see if Alva needs any help in the kitchen.” Ginny stood and offered Greer her chair then directed a stage whisper to Joseph. “I'll scope it out and see if I can find out what's on the rest of tonight's menu.” Patting Greer on the shoulder she gave the young woman a warm smile before leaving the father and daughter alone to talk.

The yellow tablet sat on the table between the two and Joseph could see the neat handwriting that had filled every line. Watching his daughter sit across from him he watched her fidget with the pages, she was having trouble figuring out how to begin. Using his ever present iPad he asked her what was on her mind.

Now that she was sitting here the mountain of questions Greer had compiled seemed ridiculous. She thumbed the pages again and again as she explained to her father what she had been doing for the last few days. She watched him nod and got the feeling that he had been waiting for this moment. “There are just too many things that don't make sense to me, dates that can not possibly be correct.” She paused taking a breath. “Papa, exactly who is Lexie Artem?”

Joseph reached over to tug on his daughter's hand so she would sit next to him. He had a lot to tell her and it would all have to be typed on the iPad since his ability to speak had not truly returned to him. First he assured her that everything in the files was accurate. Then he tried his best to explain that Lexie was different from other people and the first time he met her he was only five years old. He had been hiding under a hall table outside his father's office when Lexie finished her meeting and came out of the room. She spotted the little boy and offered him a hard candy.

Greer began sputtering. “Wha wha what do you mean you met her when you were five?”

Before his daughter could get too excited Joseph put a calming hand over hers then began to type again. He explained that not only had his father been Lexie's solicitor, but so had his father's father and his father's father's father. In fact Lexie's association with the Diodorus family went as far back as Italy when the family was called Ficino.

‘In 1458 Lexie was a Byzantine scholar who had been brought to Florence by Cosimo de Medici to teach the writings of Plato. There she met and befriended Lorenzo Ficino and eventually helped him and his family leave Florence for Venice to get out from under the control of the Medici. In the Ficino family Lexie found the meaning of true friendship. Instead of shunning her for remaining the same while the rest of them grew old and died, they embrace her as a gift from God. The Ficino family took on the duty of looking out for Lexie in the only way they could, by helping to protect her secret. And in turn Lexie helped the Ficino's by keeping them safe and becoming business partners with them and therefore ensuring their success. When times got bad in Italy she helped them move to Greece , where the then only child Isabella Ficino married Thero Diodorus and the Ficino name was lost. The family stayed in Greece until Joseph met Annah Friezt in college and fell in love. He moved to Amsterdam to marry his sweetheart and accidentally wound up living in the same city that Lexie calls one of her homes.'

Growing a little tired Joseph sat and waited for Greer's reaction. At first Greer could not form a complete sentence. She thought her father was telling her fairy tales or just putting her on. When he assured her that it was all the truth she accused him of having lost his mind due to the stroke. Pointing to a box on the highest shelf across the room Joseph ordered her to bring it to him. Inside were a few pictures of Lexie and a young Joseph, Lexie and Greer's namesake, her great grandmother, Lexie and several people having a picnic at the Parthenon around the late 1800's. One picture stood out, it was a photo of a painting hanging in a museum somewhere of a woman from the late fifteenth century and the face was unmistakably Lexie. Greer's mother had taken the picture while on holiday.

Unable to sit and listen to any more Greer stood up and began pacing around. After several trips around the room she stood before her father and asked, “What is she?”

Joseph remembered the difficulty he himself had upon learning the truth about the girl who never seemed to grow old. He waved for his daughter to take her seat and ran a gentle finger across her brow and down her cheek. Then once again began to type.

‘Lexie is a good person whose life is dedicated to protecting others. And it has been this family's honor to protect the secret of who she is and what she does. Do you understand this Greer?'

“No, no, no I don't understand any of this. Your telling me that Lexie Artem, our client, the performer is, is what….”

‘I don't know exactly, for as long as I have known Lexie I still don't know everything about her, except she's a person who goes out there and does what no other human can. She protects us. Sweetie, there are things in this world, bad things, that I have tried to prepare you for. Some people would call them fairy tales, myths, the stuff nightmares are made of, but they are real and Lexie's job is to protect mankind from them.'

“Papa I don't understand, what are you talking about?”

‘You need to talk to Lexie about this, she can explain it better and I think it would be easier to accept coming from her.'

“Sure if she were ever around.” Greer muttered still angry the woman had never returned her phone calls.

Joseph smiled knowing how his daughter felt; it had been a hard thing to get use to, not being able to find Lexie sometimes. ‘Yes, that happens a lot, you get used to it. Sweetheart I love you and I know you will be able to work through this. Now if you don't mind I am tired and would like to take a nap before dinner.'

Greer's brow formed a deep furrow but she managed a half smile for Joseph. Picking up her tablet she kissed the top of her father's head and headed for her bedroom on the top floor of the house.

As Greer threw herself on her bed her mind was spinning with everything her father had told her. She did not want to believe any of it, her logical mind refused to wrap around the notion of someone who was hundreds of years old. But as she lay there Greer began searching her memory of all the people she had ever seen visiting the house. She could not recall anyone of Lexie's description coming or going from her father's office. Just as she was about to give up she remembered Mrs. Stark having a visitor in the kitchen around the time her mother and brother had been killed in a car accident. Greer was only eight and had been wandering around the house trying not to be seen. Deep in her own sorrow, she walked into the kitchen wanting to see Mrs. Stark cooking or cleaning or doing anything that resembled the normal life she only recently had.

Instead of finding the happy woman she found a stranger fixing an upset Mrs. Stark a cup of tea and bringing it to her at the kitchen table. Upon hearing the child walk in Lexie went over to kneel down in front of her, giving Mrs. Stark a moment to compose herself. Greer could not remember exactly what the stranger said, but she remembered feeling a little better when she took the glass of orange squeeze Lexie handed her and went back to her room. It was the only time she had seen the petit woman and so had forgotten all about it.

Greer's heart was racing as she sat up and remembered the face of the stranger in her kitchen, it had been Lexie. Stunned by the evidence of her own memory Greer sank back down again trying to process all this new information about the woman she was so strongly attracted to.



A week in Scotland visiting family and friends was both too long and not long enough for Mac. She enjoyed being fussed over by her mother and roughhousing with her brothers. But avoiding all of her old girlfriends could be a bit tricky at times. She helped her father rebuild a compressor and went on a fixing spree around the house. Fortunately just as boredom was about to start taking hold it was time for her to leave.

The feeling of stepping out of the airport in Amsterdam was one of complete freedom for Mac. Here she had her own life, made her own decisions and looked out for herself. In the taxi ride home Mac reflected on just how great her life really was. She loved her work and had her own business with a partner that had introduced Mac to a whole world she never knew existed. Her life was always interesting, busy and full of beautiful women. What more could a person ask for.

Entering her rooms Mac was greeted with the same pile of clothes on the floor as when she left. Shrugging she dropped her bags on top of the small mountain and went off in search of Lexie. Something as mundane as laundry could always wait until later.

Knocking on Lexie's door Mac didn't wait for an answer before poking her head in the room. She called out to her friend but got no response. Looking around the living room briefly before leaving Mac stopped when she saw the pile of weapons on the sofa. She stepped into the room and walked around to face the discarded pile. Lexie's long coat was draped on the back of the sofa and her katana was buried under her vest of knives.

A buzzing noise caught her attention and looking around she found Lexie's phone on the floor. Mac picked up the phone and checked it. There were several missed calls, mostly from Greer or herself, a couple of text messages and voice messages. Placing the phone on the small side table Mac ran back to Lexie's bedroom. It was empty and after a thorough search of the entire house she could find no sign of her friend. While it was not unusual for Lexie to take off without telling Mac, the pile of weapons so casually thrown on the sofa caused her to worry. Lexie's katana was her baby and she never dumped it like that unless she was hurt.

With Lexie's phone here in the house there was no way to get in touch with the woman so Mac headed back to her laundry pile to wait until Lexie returned or decided to call. Yep, her life was always full of surprises.

Faced once again with the task of cleaning up Mac found one last way to put off the inevitable a little longer. Pulling out her phone she call Greer.

After three rings Greer answered her phone. “Hey Greer, it's Mac, I just got back in town. How're you doing?”

Greer's mind was still going over all the information she had learned about Lexie and was a little distracted. “Hi Mac, welcome back. How was your trip?”

“It was good, ate too much of Mum's home cooking. Glad to be back though. How's Joseph doing?”

“He's doing much better, thank you for asking.”

Mac noticed something did not seem right with Greer, the other woman sounded a little down. “Hey Greer, are you okay?”

“Sorry Mac,” Greer gave a little smile into the phone. “I just have a lot of stuff I'm trying to deal with right now.”

“Okay, well would you have time for dinner tomorrow night? I owe you one for taking me to the airport.”

“You don't owe me for taking you to the airport, it was my pleasure.” Greer reassured her.

“Greer, you folded my laundry. Let me take you to dinner, we'll have a few laughs and then you can go back to being an all serious business person.” Mac was not going to take no for an answer.

A night out might be just what she needed Greer thought. “Okay, that sounds great.”

“Good.” Mac grinned pleased with herself. “I'll pick you up at seven. You like motorcycles?”

Riding on the back of a motorcycle with Mac sounded a little too daunting at the moment. “Why don't I pick you up at seven, you can pick the restaurant.”

Mac laughed. “Oh lass, you don't know what you're missing, but okay. You've got a key so just come on in, that door buzzer is a pain in the ass, besides you're one of us now. You should come and go as you please.”

The small thrill that statement gave Greer was also accompanied by a small degree of apprehension. Maybe talking to Mac about Lexie would help her understand just whom this person was. “Thanks Mac.” Greer said sincerely. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

Mac wished Greer a good night then reluctantly went back to the job of cleaning her room. As she sorted clothes from parts Mac chuckled to herself, perhaps being around Lexie for so long had rubbed off on her. At one time a pile of laundry and machine parts in the middle of her floor would have never bothered her.



Now that Lexie was awake, Paulie knew there was no way they would be able to keep her in bed. Movement was still painful for Lexie but she refused to stay still. Her skin looked like she had the world's worst sunburn, it was very red and pink with small thin lines marking where the flesh had been cut away.

Upon finding out that her clothes had been destroyed in order to get her out of them, Lexie questioned what everyone had against her leathers and why people were always wanting to throw them away. The one bright point was that Percy had saved her knit cap. It had been a gift from a firefighter friend and it was fire proof. Somehow her clothes had not managed to protect her skin, but the cap had saved her hair, for the most part. One of the first things Paulie did when Lexie insisted on getting out of bed was trim the scorched pieces of hair from Lexie's head. Her new look was even more pixyish than before.

When Lexie threatened to walk around the house naked Percy provided her with a pair of light weight silk shorts and a matching tank top. Since her boots had been destroyed as well she opted to just go barefoot. Lexie was eager to go home so she could work out her plan to go after the mage, but even she knew her aching skin would hinder her and she needed to be in top condition to face whatever awaited her.

The first evening Lexie was awake her parents popped in for a visit. Knowing how impatient their daughter was, they could see she would get no real rest unless she were somewhere she felt comfortable and in control. So after thanking their hosts and gathering all of Paulie's medical supplies, Athena and Artemis took the two back to Lexie's Amsterdam home.

Paulie's insistence of staying with Lexie until she was more properly healed was all the assurance the two goddesses needed. Paulie knew just how to handle a difficult Lexie. Athena liked the little vampyre doctor and the way she handled herself. She could respect the woman and trust her to take care of her daughter.

Artemis gave Lexie a stern warning that she was not to go off and do anything stupid before she was ready or she would bring the wrath of Olympus down on the girl. Upon getting Lexie's promise Athena took her wife's hand and they both disappeared leaving the two women to get some rest.

As soon as her parents were gone Lexie grinned at Paulie. “So what do you want to do?”

Paulie tucked her chin in and narrowed her eyes at the spark of mischief that was building in those blue eyes. “I want you to go to bed.” Lexie raised one eyebrow and her grin grew even wider. “To sleep.” Paulie informed her.

“Oh come on Paulie it's too early and I've slept for the last week. I need to do something or I'm going to go crackers here.” Lexie pleaded with her doctor giving the woman her best puppy dog eyes.

“That doesn't work on me and you know it.” Paulie looked away and took a deep breath. “You shouldn't do anything strenuous, your skin is still very tender.”

The grin was back instantly. Lexie had won, as she knew she would. “I know, you have never seen my updated studio, why don't I give you the grand tour.”

Paulie chuckled and shook her head. “There's a wee bit of the devil in you Lexie Artem.”

“Could be.” Lexie wiggled her sparsely grown in eyebrows. “Who knows what they used to make me.” Grabbing Paulie's hand she drew the woman near and lead them to the door. “Let's start at the top and work our way down.”

Without protest Paulie allowed herself to be hauled up to the attic. Lexie was smiling and happy and that was all that truly mattered to the doctor.



A cool gentle breeze blew just enough to make Greer pull her jacket a bit tighter across her chest. It had been a lovely night and one Greer had really needed. Instead of grilling Mac about Lexie as she had planned she simply relaxed and enjoyed the evening. Mac was a charming, delightful and fun woman to hang out with and it was easy to see why the tall Scot had so many women wanting to go out with her.

They had gone to a Mediterranean restaurant in the neighborhood and the walk back to the studio was refreshing after the wonderful meal. During the six block walk though Greer could not help herself and had to ask just one question about the woman who was always on her mind these days.

“So Mac, how long have you known Lexie?”

Mac smiled, she had been waiting all night for the woman to ask about their little Lex. “It's been about fifteen years now.”

“So did you guys go to school together?”

Mac shook her head. “No, I built a regulator for the first stage Lex designed. We hit it off from the beginning, the next thing I knew I was building the stage for her.”

Greer stole a glance at the woman who stood a few inches taller. “You must have been young.”

Mac shrugged thinking back on her first meeting with Lex. “Nineteen. It was the perfect time in my life for change.”

Just as Greer was about to ask about how old Lexie had been at that time Mac came to an abrupt halt. The woman stood there with a perplexed look on her face. “Mac?” Greer placed a hand on her friends arm. “What is it?”

“The lights are all on in the studio.” Mac motioned with her head in the direction of the building across the street. “I didn't leave them on.” Noticing the fourth floor lights were on as well Mac smiled. “Come on.” She said as she took hold of Greer's arm and moved them across the street. “Looks like Lex is home.”

At the prospect of seeing Lexie Greer's heart started beating a little faster but the conflicting emotions that were coursing through her caused her to pause. Mac looked at her as if confused. “I'm not sure I should…”

Now that they were safely on the sidewalk Mac placed both her hands on the blonde's shoulders. “Of course you should, I know you want to see her.” Greer's eyes widened just a bit. “Darling if it's one thing I know, it's women. And you like her.” Mac watched as Greer tried to protest but the effort died on her lips before it could ever be voiced. “Listen to me. Lex would never admit it, but she likes you too. But Lex has been running from a badly damaged broken heart for a long time now. She's terrified of getting involved with someone. So you have to be patient with her.” Mac smiled when Greer started calming down. “But be persistent.”

Greer swallowed hard. “But there's more to it than that?”

“Yes, but that's for Lex to tell, not me.” Mac slid a hand into the crook of Greer's elbow. “Come on, it's cold out here.” She began moving them to the front door. “Let's go see what our wayward imp has been up to.”



The light sound of laughter could be heard as the two women came in out of the cold. And the sight that greeted them as they walked into the room was childish at best. The floor had been retracted so that the tumble tracks were exposed. And there bouncing back and forth like a little kid was a short woman with long brown hair laughing each time she bounced into the air.

“Do you think I could talk Marcus into putting one of these in the basement?” Paulie giggled as she bounced past Lexie.

Lexie stood on the side of the track watching her friend with delight. “Only if you want to put your head through the floor boards. I don't think it's quite Marcus's style.”

“Pauline!” Mac roared as she took long strides to close the distance between them. Paulie giggled and waved as she tried to stop bouncing and get off the long trampoline. Mac reached out a hand to steady her then pulled the smaller woman into her arms. “How is my favorite snaggle toothed tiger?”

A smack was quickly delivered to Mac's backside. “You cheeky bugger you.” Paulie laughed.

Keeping one arm around Paulie's shoulders Mac looked over at Lexie. “Good Lord Lex, what the hell have you been doing? You look like shit.”

“Good to see you too Mac.” Lexie had not moved but she shifted her eyes to where Greer had stayed back closer to the entrance. “Greer, it's good to see you.”

The moment they had walked in the room Greer noticed the woman bouncing and laughing, it was impossible not to, but her attention was quickly diverted to the smaller woman standing with her back to them. When Mac had taken off Greer followed at a much slower pace. She was taking in every detail of the woman who had yet to turn in her direction. She observed the hair was a little shorter and spikier than usual and the normally form clinging clothes that Lexie always wore were replaced with loose fitting silky shorts and tank top. Her normally pale skin was bright red and pink and looked painful. As Lexie turned to face them Greer noticed the slightest wince.

Mac could feel the tension rolling off Greer and tried to divert the conversation. “So seriously Lex, what's with the sunburn? Did you finally make it down to Ibiza ?”

The thought of Lexie on a beach somewhere enjoying herself with this giggling woman while she was trying to reach her pushed all other thoughts from Greer's mind. “You have some nerve, couldn't you at least have the decency to return one phone call. Everyone says I should get use to you only contacting people when you feel like it, but I'm telling you right now I don't work that way.” With each word Greer had taken a step closer until she was standing directly in front of Lexie. “So you need to pull your shit together.” She exclaimed while punctuating each word with a jab to Lexie's chest.

Lexie winced in pain, as dark red marks appeared where Greer's finger had made contact. Paulie was by her side in an instant. “What the hell do you think your doing, back off!” She yelled at Greer who took a startled step back. Turning to her patient Paulie began to check for any damage to the tender new flesh. Lexie was struggling with short breaths, the pain taking her by surprise. “There's no tearing, just bruising.” She encouraged Lexie to open her eyes and take deeper breaths. Slowly the pain eased off and Lexie was able to take a deep breath of relief.

Greer was horrified at what she had just done. She had no way of knowing Lexie's sunburn was that serious. “Lexie, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you.” Tear filled eyes watched as Lexie began breathing normally again.

Lexie looked up with an apologetic smile. “It's okay Greer. I'm sorry I didn't return your calls, I didn't have my phone with me otherwise I would have.”

Everyone stood still unsure what to say at this point until Mac broke the silence. “Well damn.” Lexie and Mac silently laughed but Greer still stood stunned at her own behavior. The entire time Paulie had been looking back and forth between her friend and the stranger. It was the chastised look on Lexie's face that told her this was the woman that had sent Lexie's heart tumbling.

“Mac, would you take Lexie back upstairs. But don't touch her.” Paulie instructed. As Mac moved to Lexie's side her boss began to protest. “I think we've all had enough excitement for one night and you need your rest, so unless you would like for me to call your uncle to weigh in on this conversation, I'm ordering you to bed, now.”

A warning eyebrow shot up to no avail, there was simply no arguing with Paulie when she was in full on doctor mode. “Greer, I really am sorry, perhaps you can come by tomorrow.” Lexie glared in Paulie's direction. “That is if nurse Cratchet will let me have visitors.”

“That's Doctor Nurse to you.” Paulie raised both eyebrows and waited for Lexie to leave.

It did not take long until only she and Greer remained in the studio.

Before Paulie could say anything Greer's nerve returned now that she did not have to see the pain on Lexie's face that she had caused. “Exactly who are you?” She could not help the feelings of jealously that bubbled up inside. This woman seemed to know Lexie on some deeper level and that fact bothered her.

The girl had guts Paulie would give her that. “I'm Paulie, Lexie's Doctor and friend.”

“Doctor?” Greer looked to the door Lexie had awkwardly made her way to. “What's going on? I've never seen a sunburn like that and I know I didn't poke her hard enough to cause a bruise.”

“That's because it's not a sunburn.” Unlike Lexie, Paulie liked to give people as much information as she could and let them make up their own minds. “Lexie walked into a fire to save a girl. The girl is fine, but Lexie suffered some burns. She's recovering nicely, but she still has a little ways to go. The reason she could not call you back was because she's been unconscious. And she didn't have her phone with her.” Paulie watched as Greer's mouth worked up and down but no sound came forth. “How much do you know about Lexie?”

The question had taken Greer by surprise. And when she looked into the brown eyes she found only concern and truth. “I know she's older than she appears, she doesn't seem to age.”

“Your Joseph's daughter, right?” Paulie smiled at the confused face as Greer nodded. “I thought so.” She considered how much she should tell this woman, but then again Greer would have to know the entire truth eventually. “In Lexie's line of work she gets hurt a lot. A lot. I've patched her up more times than I care to remember. But the good thing is that she heals very quickly. Deep cuts or minor breaks, a couple of days. This time her entire body was burned and I had to remove the blackened charred skin in order for her skin to regrow, so it's taking a little longer. In a few days she will be fine. The pink will fade along with the lines of my scalpel.”

Greer felt like she was going to lose her dinner. The thought of Lexie having all her skin removed was making her sick to her stomach. Before she could hurl her musakhan, Paulie rushed her over to the sink and splashed cool water on her face and neck. Greer gave the doctor a grateful smile and took a seat on the sofa. The information was too much and mixed with her feelings for Lexie, Greer felt like she was on overload.

“Look kid,” Paulie said as she took a seat next to Greer “I take it this is new information to you and it's a lot to take in and your probably having a hard time believing it. But I will tell you this; Lexie is the most devoted and loyal person I have ever known, she is the balance between your world and ours, and she would never turn her back on anyone.” Paulie noticed the color was slowly coming back to Greer's face. “Your family has been with Lexie for a long time, but if for some reason you can't handle this then let her know and walk away. I just ask that you not hurt her, she's been hurt enough and for being one of the strongest people I know, she is also the most sensitive.” There was nothing more Paulie could say so she stood ready to leave. “I need to go check on her. You look exhausted, you should get some rest yourself.” As Paulie walked to the stairwell she called over her shoulder. “And she will be expecting you tomorrow.”

The sound of footsteps faded up the stairs leaving Greer sitting all alone. She sank into the sofa for a long time trying to comprehend everything that had happened. In the course of one day Greer was told the impossible was in fact possible. And when she tried to not believe it all she had to do was think of Lexie to know it was true. She closed her eyes willing her mind to stop all these crazy thoughts, but when she did she saw the dark purple bruises that had come up on Lexie's chest where her fingers had made contact. Greer threw her eyes open to stop the images. The doctor was right, she was exhausted and she wanted to go home. Hitting the lights as she went out the main studio Greer locked up and left, she did not want to think about anything until tomorrow.



Sunlight floated into the room through a gap in the curtains while two finches were having an argument on the windowsill. Lexie took a deep breath before opening her eyes. She was alone in her bed and the entire house was blissfully quiet. Stretching her arms above her head Lexie tested to see how much mobility she had gained. Her skin felt tight, but the painful pulling had lessened.

While brushing her teeth Lexie could see the bruises on her chest reflected in the mirror. They were not as dark as they had been and would probably be gone before the end of the day. Looking around her apartment she could find no evidence of Paulie so she quietly made her way to Mac's room. Upon opening the door she found Mac and Paulie sound asleep curled up at opposite ends of the sofa. Crossing to a lounge chair she picked up a soft blanket and placed it over the sleeping bodies.

As Lexie bent down to place a kiss atop Paulie's head, brown eyes were suddenly smiling up at her. “Go back to sleep love, I'll see you later.” Lexie whispered close to the delicate ear so as not to wake the other occupant of the room.

“Be good.” Paulie mumbled back as her eyes fluttered shut again.

“I promise.” Lexie said as she brushed a few strands of hair away in order to kiss the relaxed forehead. She doubted she would see either one of them for the rest of the day. They had probably stayed up all night talking. There were no windows in Mac's living room so Paulie was in no danger of getting burned. Closing the door gently behind her Lexie headed back to her own room to shower and see what she could find in the way of food. The bottomless pit she called a stomach was making its presence known.


Morning traffic sucked but Greer did not seem to notice as she made her way across town. She had been unable to sleep all night, so as the sun rose and another beautiful day was upon them she decided it was time to sit down and have a long talk with Lexie.

Standing in front of Lexie's place she paused to take a moment to calm the nerves that had sprung up as she approached the door. Greer was looking for the right key to put in the lock when a delivery van pulled up and a young man walked a large box to the door. He asked if this were the Artem residence and handed over the container of food when she told him yes. Greer began to dig in her pocket to pay him, but he just smiled and waved as he headed back to his van. It had all been taken care of including a very generous tip. Greer stood there holding the box while delicious aromas wafted up to her nose causing her mouth to water. After watching the van pull away she went inside, making her way up to Lexie's apartment. Knocking on the door with the toe of her boot she waited for someone to answer.

Lexie swung the door open wondering who would be knocking and was surprised to find a heavily burdened Greer standing there. “Greer.”

“I believe your breakfast has arrived.” Greer said as she moved past Lexie and into the kitchen. Lexie followed her and stood watching as Greer unpacked the box. “You guys must really be hungry.” Greer noted as she unpacked container after container of food and one box of coffee. Holding the coffee up by its handle Greer looked at Lexie and smirked. “Really?”

“Want a cup?” Lexie smiled as she went to a cabinet to get two coffee mugs.

The apartment was very quiet Greer noted, in fact the whole house had been quiet when she came in. “Where are Mac and Paulie?”

Taking the coffee from Greer and looking for the sugar Lexie poured the steaming brew into two cups. “They're in Mac's room asleep, apparently they stayed up all night talking. We won't see Paulie until tonight, but Mac might stir late this afternoon.”

Looking down at all the food laid out on the table Greer gave Lexie an incredulous look. “What? I'm hungry.” Lexie said sheepishly as she eyed her buffet. “Have you eaten yet, would you like to join me?” Lexie smiled up at the tall blonde.

“I don't know, are you sure you have enough.” Greer smiled back.

Lexie pursed her lips and glared. “Just grab some plates out of the cabinet.” She said as she started moving the containers to the counter so they would have a place to sit.

Greer filled her plate with eggs, fruit salad and a croissant. “Where's the bacon?” She joked.

“Give your arteries a break for one morning.” Lexie quipped back as she pilled her plate high with pancakes and fruit compote. Grabbing another plate she loaded that one with eggs, grilled tomatoes, hominy, hash browns with salsa, baked beans and a selection of cheese slices. Moving her plates to the table Lexie went back for a bowl of fruit salad, a large glass of water and the basket of croissants. Just as she was about to dig in she noticed Greer just staring at her and not eating. Looking at her plates of food she muttered something about having a high metabolism before cutting into the stack of pancakes.

Greer reached over as soon as Lexie had cut them and snagged a forkful. Bright blue eyes snapped her way with a mischievous smile. “I'll get you more.” She pleaded and then ate the stolen treat.

Breakfast proceeded as a fairly normal affair and Greer sat mesmerized as Lexie ate everything on her plates. As she watched the small woman enjoying every mouth full, she could not help noticing the bruises that barely peaked out from the top of Lexie's shirt.

The pleasant calm in the air shifted and Lexie look up to see Greer staring at her chest. Instead of taking the easy way out she finished her breakfast, put their plates in the sink then bumped an arm against the quiet woman's shoulder. “Come on, I want to show you something.”

Without any choice Greer followed Lexie's retreating back down the hall. She was led up a set of stairs and finally out onto a deck that over looked the courtyard in back of the building. Lexie opened a large umbrella so they would not be sitting in any direct sunlight. That would have been a little too much for her healing skin and she had promised Paulie she would be good.

“This is my thinking spot.” Lexie said as she looked up to a blue sky with little white puffy clouds.

They both settled into the comfortable chairs and an awkward silence descended around them. Before Lexie could break the silence Greer stopped biting her lower lip and spoke. “I'm really sorry about that.” She said pointing to the fading bruises.

“Don't worry about it, it doesn't hurt and they're almost gone.” Lexie gave her a small smile. “We need to talk Greer, there are some things I need to tell you.”

Greer took in a deep breath and looked Lexie in the eyes. Her resolve was back and she was ready for some answers. “Okay, will you answer my questions? Truthfully. Because if you can't, this is not going to work.”

Looking into those bright green eyes Lexie felt something inside her melt. She knew that whatever Greer would ask of her she would give. And that thought frightened her. “I will do my best, I promise.”

“How old are you?”

Of all the questions she expected from Greer, this was not the one she thought would be first. “Um, that's a bit… Isn't it considered rude to ask a lady her age?” Lexie was trying to buy time but Greer just sat there with one eyebrow raised. Letting out a sigh Lexie answered. “Uh okay, let's see, 2396.” She watched as Greer blinked rapidly, clearly not expecting the answer she got.

Recovering her voice Greer managed to utter. “Are you human?”

“What? Wha… yes, of course I'm human. Who have you been talking to? Look, Greer why don't I just tell you about myself and you can jump in with any questions you have. But, yes human just like you. Well, mostly like you.” Lexie wasn't sure why the question had disturbed her; she had certainly been accused of not being human before.

Before she could be interrupted again Lexie began explaining her life. “Greer, I am human, I am not from another planet, but in a sense I am from another world, one that has always been here, always existed. It's no different really than someone from a tribe in the Amazon living in Paris . There's nothing special about me. I might be a little stronger and a little faster than most people, but I can do the things I do because I work at it, I train to make sure I am the best. Longevity is just in my genes.”

Greer sat looking into Lexie's eyes knowing she was getting the abridged version. “And growing all new skin in just a few days?” Looking at the rapidly fading bruises, Greer was fascinated at how fast they were vanishing.

Following the path of green eyes to her own chest Lexie half attempted a smile. “Yeah, that kind of comes with the longevity thing. I'd be toast without it. My body can sustain a lot of damage and can heal itself fairly quickly, but I'm not invincible, I can be killed.” Looking down for a moment Lexie mumbled. “Sort of.”

“How?” Greer looked at Lexie's face to see a myriad of emotions pass over it.

“You'll understand if that's not information I give out.” Lexie smiled at the blush that now tinted Greer's cheeks as she mumbled ‘sorry'. “Greer do you know what my name means in Greek?” She watched the other woman shake her head. “It means ‘protector of mankind', that's what I am, it's my first job above all others. The creatures you know of as myth or legend or fairytale really do exist and sometimes they attack mortals, my job is to stop it anyway I can. Sometimes that means killing them and sometimes it's just a matter of finding a better way for them to live.”

Despite her not wanting to get drawn in, Greer was now truly fascinated by what Lexie was telling her. “What do you mean ‘better way to live'?”

“Well, take vampyre for example. They use to be a real problem injuring or killing people just to satisfy their need for blood. They don't need it all the time, but do need to ingest at regular intervals in order to survive. We set up what could be considered some of the first blood banks in the known world. And now they have relatively normal lives. Heck I even have one as a doctor.”

A moment of fear flashed through Greer's eyes. “Paulie's a vampyre?”

Reaching over Lexie laid a tentative hand over the long tapered fingers that had started to tremble. “It's okay Greer, Paulie's one of the good guys. She can't help that she was born with this condition.”

“Condition? Are you telling me vampirism is a disease?”

“Yes, it's something a person is born with just like cerebral palsy or a congenital heart defect. You can ask Paulie about all the medical terms and explanations, but you can't be turned into one by being bitten, they are not afraid of garlic, crosses or holy water. They are allergic to the UV rays of the sun, which can burn their skin to a crisp, and because they spend so much time in the dark they have excellent vision as well and for some reason sensitive hearing. And they do live very long lives.”

“How long?”

“Between four to five hundred years.”

“Wow, so Paulie's really old.”

Lexie laughed relived that Greer was taking everything so well. “Yes, but I wouldn't say that to her.” The smile slowly turning up Greer's lips was the most beautiful sight Lexie had ever seen.

“So what about Mac? What is she?”

“Annoying.” Lexie stated. “And a hell of a talented mechanical engineer. Other than being a smartass Mac is just as normal as you are.”

The feeling of Lexie's hand being taken away left Greer missing it almost instantly, she laughed and looked out over the rooftops. “Somehow I think Mac would find that a most flattering description.”

Time passed and a quiet settled over them once again. Lexie glanced over to see Greer staring off into the distance lost in thought. “So how are you doing Greer?”

“I feel a little like my brain has been put in a blender and somebody hit puree.” Greer closed her eyes and tried to will the headache that was forming behind her eyes to go away.

“Yeah.” Lexie looked down at her hands. “You know I happen to know a really good remedy for that.” Greer looked over at the small woman expectantly. “Smoothies.”


“Yep.” Lexie looked up with an impish grin. “There's nothing better. How about it? You up for a smoothie?”

Greer's mouth fell open with astonishment. “After that big breakfast?”

“Did I mention I have a really high metabolism? Especially when I'm recovering from an injury.” Lexie jumped to her feet and wiggled her eyebrows.

“Maybe I'll just have a sip of yours.” Greer smiled as she followed an already retreating Lexie.

“Now where's the fun in that?”

“Okay, a small one. I can see I'm going to have to up my workouts if I'm going to be hanging around with you.”


The world had been turned on its end and Greer was not sure she believed everything Lexie had told her, yet Lexie had stood before her with vanishing bruises as living proof of the truth. So whether Greer decided to accept everything she had been told or was pushing it all aside until it could be rationally dissected did not matter. The easy going camaraderie that had first developed between her and Lexie was back and it felt so right that Greer did not want to think about anything else.

The two hung out all day together while Lexie showed Greer how to use some of the equipment in the studio. Mac even joined them for a while, but decided a little less noise and fun was more her speed at the moment.

That night Lexie sent Paulie home on a first class ticket to Paris . But before the diminutive doctor left she handed Greer a large tube of salve and told her to make sure it was rubbed into Lexie's skin twice a day. The sight of both Greer and Lexie blushing clear up to their hairlines had made Paulie's day. She gave Lexie a kiss good-bye that had Greer grinding her teeth then grabbed Mac by the arm and headed for the back door. Greer could have sworn she heard something about the best way to end a trip was having Mac and a bike between her legs.

Now that her skin was feeling better and only faint white lines etched across soft pink skin Lexie was ready to go after the mage. She had spent three wonderful days with Greer. They had worked on fighting techniques with swords, escrima sticks, staffs and hand to hand, and Lexie had found herself very impressed with Greer's level of skill. They talked about all the creatures Lexie had encountered in her life, a very long and extensive list to be sure. And Greer wondered at just how blind people could be when they did not want to believe in something.

But now the time had come and Lexie prepared for the upcoming battle. It was late afternoon, so by the time she ferried across the channel and rode to the mages location it would be late into tomorrow night where hopefully the cover of darkness and the element of surprise would be on her side.

Dressed in her leathers with swords and knives at the ready, Lexie started to leave her apartment when her phone buzzed indicating an incoming text. There was a knock on her door and as she opened it another text came through.

Greer stood at the door stunned to see Lexie dressed all in black leather with a sword strapped to her back and another one at her side. She was about to say something when Mac ran past her, laptop in hand.

“Lex, I've got flags popping up all over the place.” Mac said as she sat the computer down on the coffee table and angled it so everyone could see.

“I'm getting multiple texts, rouges are turning up everywhere.” Lexie said looking at her phone when all of a sudden it began playing the Looney Tunes theme. “Pauline, this isn't a good time.” She paused to listen. “Can you find them, isolate ‘em and keep ‘em under lock and key?” She listened for a moment then interrupted. “Paulie let me speak to Marcus.” Lexie's tone of voice left no room for arguments. “Marcus, I need you to take your strongest and best people and go get your two rouges. Try not to hurt them, just keep them locked up until you hear from me. And Marcus I don't want Paulie anywhere near it.” She nodded as Marcus agreed. “I'm glad we see eye to eye on this.” Flipping her phone to silent Lexie shoved it in her pocket.

“What's going on?” Greer asked looking between the warrior and the technician.

The grim expression on Mac's face spoke volumes. “The whole world just went crazy. Lex?” She looked to the pacing woman for instructions.

“Call everyone and tell them I'm on it, don't panic anyone.” Making sure Mac understood exactly what she was saying Lexie began thinking out loud again. “This is just a distraction. He knew I was coming and he's trying to throw me off. But how?” Pulling a throwing knife from her vest she began flipping it through her fingers, the action helping her to concentrate. “Unless he's ghosting me through the lines. I made a brief contact before mother pulled me back. He must have tracked me.” For the first time Lexie looked up into frightened green eyes. “Shit.” She whispered realizing what she had done. “Mother!” Lexie shouted.

A moment later a slightly taller version of Lexie shimmered into view beside her daughter. Looking around at the other occupants of the room then back to Lexie. “What is it Lexie?”

There was no time for introductions or pleasantries as Lexie rushed to explain what was happening. “He knows I'm coming. He knew that I was leaving at this moment and now I have rouge creatures turning up all over the map. It's a distraction I know, but could he have traced me through the lines? Does he know about this place?”

“It's possible, you did make contact, but it was so brief.” Artemis looked at the two other women again. They were staring at her with saucer wide eyes and Greer seemed to be teetering a bit. “Mac please get Greer to a seat.” Turning back to her daughter Artemis continued as if it were all one train of thought. “When you surfaced back here, he must have picked up on it. It wouldn't have been easy, but with the power he's been pulling he probably knows.”

Lexie's head snapped up as she heard something down in the studio. Mac recognized the look on her friends face. “What is it Lex?”

No sooner had the question been ask then a loud keening sound could be heard coming from downstairs. “Looks like he decided to bring the party to you.” Artemis said.

Lexie turned back and was caught by the frightened look in Greer's eyes. The girl had no way of knowing what was happening and there was no time to explain. The one thing Lexie knew for sure at that moment was she would not let the past repeat itself.

Turning to her mother, Lexie's eyes went from blue to grey. “Get mom here I need you to protect them. Mac, go get some swords out of the vault.” She turned to her mother again. “If you have to, pop them out of here and keep on the move until you hear from me.”

A tall beautiful woman with grey eyes and light reddish golden hair appeared next to Artemis holding two swords. “None for us Mac, we prefer our own.” Athena said as she handed her wife a sword.

Mac looked like a deer caught in headlights and Greer's eyes had somehow gotten even larger. Mac collapsed on the armchair next to Greer and stared from one apparition to the next.

Stepping over to stand before the two stunned women Lexie reached out and put a hand on both their shoulders. “Mac, I need you concentrate, we've got trouble and I need you to focus.” Seeing the glazed look leave the Scot's eyes she continued. “Get a sword for you and Greer, protect her Mac. And don't worry about the crazy scary ladies here, they're just my parents.” Looking up at matching sets of raised eyebrows Lexie put as much passion into her demand as she dared. “Protect them, anything tries to come through that door get them out of here.” She looked down at Greer who was now watching her every move. “Don't worry Greer I'm not going to let anything hurt you.” Giving the shoulder a light squeeze she hurried out the door following the sound down to the studio.

The door slamming propelled Mac into action and she took off for the vault leaving Greer alone with the two imposing looking women. Unable to find her voice right away Greer just blinked at the two. Finally swallowing the lump in her throat Greer managed to croak. “So you're Lexie's moms.”

“That's right dear.” Athena smiled as Mac ran in with two swords. “I'm Athena and this is Artemis.”

It took a moment for what was said to register, but when it did Greer's eyes went round as saucers again. “Athena, as in holder of the thunderbolt, goddess of wisdom Athena? And goddess of the hunt Artemis?”

A stunned Mac gave the women a half smile. “Sisters? Kinky.”

The smile from Athena's face disappeared as she shot a death glare at Mac. “We are not sisters.”

Placing a calming arm around her wife's waist Artemis quickly defused the situation. “You should not believe everything you read Mac.” It always amazed her how much it bothered her wife when people called them sisters.

A loud bellow sounded from the studio snapping all four women's attention back to the situation at hand. “Mac, Greer get behind us and if anything comes through that door that isn't Lexie take its head off.” Artemis said as she took a couple of steps away from her wife. Raising their swords in unison the goddesses stood battle ready. Lexie would not let them join her, but they were not about to leave their daughter alone.



Leaping from landing to landing Lexie managed to reach the studio in a matter of seconds. The first thing she encountered as she ran into the room was a swipe across her face by sharp talons that drew a fine line of blood. It was not a deep cut and the Keres swiftly flew to the rafters to prepare for its next attack. A quick glance around the room told Lexie there was a Hydra advancing on her from the left and something was lurking deep in the shadows of the farthest corner of the room. But before she could draw her katana an enraged Minotaur appeared beside her and ran a horn through her right bicep. She kicked the beast off and sent it reeling across the floor. Drawing her sword to fend off the razor sharp talons that were coming at her once again with the precision of a bird of prey. The Keres pulled back in time not to be impaled, but not before Lexie managed to cut off the tip of one talon. The creature flew high screaming in anger at the contact.

“You want a manicure, come on then.” Lexie taunted the creature.

Drawing the Amazon sword Lexie turned in time to take off one of the snakeheads on the Hydra, she was trying to get to the base of all the heads to sever them from the body, but her attention was quickly diverted to the Minotaur that was back on its feet and charging from behind. Flipping over the serpent she found herself immediately ducking the striking end of a large scorpion tail as a Manticore appeared.

Welding both swords around her Lexie was a blur of steel as she maneuvered herself to the center of the room. Striking out and slicing a gash in the Minotaur's thigh then following the momentum of her sword Lexie dove to the floor. She slid on her back coming up under the Hydra, crossed her swords on its neck and severed the writhing heads. No replacements would grow this time as the creature fell dead.

A Harpie appeared above her just as all the creatures let out a cry of anger. The brief second gave Lexie enough time to get to her feet and move into a defensive position. As she spun around she caught a slight movement in the far corner. Whatever was there was not making itself known just yet. And Lexie had a good idea now what was lurking in the shadows. A Chthouian joined the fray, tentacles flaying wildly, as everything began moving in on her. The creatures closed in as Lexie struck out pushing them back slashing and cutting as she went. The Manticore lost its stinger and the Minotaur was bleeding badly from a huge gash across his stomach, but still they fought. The Harpie was grounded, her wings in shreds and the Keres was missing a fang, but still they came. Blood seeped through cuts in Lexie's pants legs and gashes across her back. A movement from the shadows caught her attention once more and she fought as she watched a dark robed figure move forward.

The mage was a man no more than five and a half feet tall. His eyes were black with deep shadows around them and his sallow cheeks were sunken in. The cloak hung off him as if he had lost a lot of weight recently, perhaps even height, and the expression he wore was that of a determined psychopath. The dark energy was feeding off of him as he called on it to do his bidding. He probably was not even aware Lexie thought, that the power he was using to control and kill was devouring him as well.

She fought nonstop and watched as the mage slowly skirted around the fight. Fear gripped at Lexie as she realized he was trying to make his way to the stairs. A new surge of energy, the likes of which she had never felt before, built up inside her, Lexie dropped to one knee letting her swords fall and slammed the palm of her hand onto the floor.

“ENOUGH!!!!” She shouted as the wave of energy emitted out from her, knocking everyone to the ground and out of the air.

There was silence at last until the quiet whimpering and struggling sounds of the stunned creatures began. They lay all around her unable to move.

Lexie stood and gathered her swords then walked over to the mage who was struggling to his knees. “You,” she pointed the Amazon sword at him, “you caused this, why?”

The mage looked up into the dark grey eyes and sneered. “I know who you are ‘Protector of Mankind', you can not stop me. I am to be the new ruler of this world and you possess no power to stop me, you are nothing more than a street fighter. A fighter I will enjoy having as my own.”

The ramblings of mad men had always bored Lexie. Before, the musings had always been directed at their fellow man. Man against man was out of her jurisdiction, but this pathetic little man had crossed the line and there was something she could do this time.

Her cold glare held the man in place. “Right, well this is me stopping you .”

Spinning around full circle Lexie brought her katana even with the mages shoulders and cleanly severed his head from the rest of his body. As his head hit the floor the heavy feeling of evil evaporated from the air, the link to the dark magic was cut.

Without looking back Lexie walked over to each creature as they now struggled to their feet looking around confused and dazed. She asked each one the same question. ‘Home or death?' Only the harpie lunged at her and therefore chose death.

Watching the creature fall to dust quieted any aggression the others might have had. They simply stood quietly nursing their wounds and waiting for Lexie's next order. Her mother could send them all back where they belonged and she was sure that all of the rouges that had popped up earlier were now feeling more normal. Turning to call her mother Lexie was stopped cold at the sight of Greer, Mac and her parents standing just inside the room near the stairwell. Tears were running down Greer's cheeks with a look of sheer horror on her face.

“Greer.” Lexie whispered, she wanted to go comfort the woman but she knew that look of fear was because of her.

Before she could take a step Aphie appeared before her. “What was that!?!” Turning at the approach of her sister and sister-in-law she appeared on the verge of losing her composure. “People on the Mount are freaking out!”

The three goddesses stood staring at Lexie as if unable to believe what had just happened. Her mother was the first to speak. “Lexie, do you have any idea what just happened?”

Before Lexie could answer a small golden light appeared, it grew to human size and then faded leaving a tall woman with long red hair and bright blue eyes standing in its place. Lexie looked at the woman who appeared both young and old at the same time. Her long flowing dress was something from another time, simple yet beautiful. The blue of her eyes were circled with gold and her rosy lips smiled down at Lexie. Unsure of the new arrival everyone remained still. Everyone except Artemis, she stepped forward to stand by her daughter's side.

“Hello Mother.” Artemis said as she bowed her head to the woman.

Athena was one of only a few who knew who Artemis's real mother was but she had only met the woman a few times. Artemis had no father just as she had no mother and that fact had always made them both feel that they shared an even closer bond. “Gaia.” Athena spoke reverently as she bowed her head. Aphie squeaked as she sucked in a breath and followed her sister's lead bowing her head with respect.

Still by the stairwell Mac and Greer stood watching in shock and wondering just what the hell was going on.

Even the creatures that stood by seemed to know who this person was and quietly stood with their heads bowed. This was Gaia, the great mother and all creatures of the earth belonged to her.

Lexie stood unable to look away from the mesmerizing blue eyes. She of course knew who Gaia was, but not that she was the mother of Artemis. Blinking several times as this new fact hit her, this was her mother's mother, Gaia was her grandmother. It had been several moments since Lexie had taken a breath, something she was unaware of until Gaia reminded her to breathe.

Never taking her eyes off the small woman who stood before her with shinning eyes and blood dripping on the floor, Gaia spoke. “My dear Artemis you have indeed raised a truly unique and incredible child.” She reached out and touched the blood stained cheek then reached inside the sleeve of her loose fitting tunic and pulled out a handkerchief. Everyone watched as the great mother cleaned her granddaughters face. Pleased with her work she ran a gentle finger down the now clean cheek and smiled at the girl again. “So brave and so strong, inside here,” Gaia touched Lexie's chest and then head, “and here.”

Removing her hand she stood for a moment looking into intense blue eyes. “Lexie, do you have any idea what you have done?” Not waiting for a response she continued. “You sent a shock wave through my entire earth. Only those of our world felt it, but no one has ever done that before. The power you possess is a great one.”

Shaking her head slightly Lexie looked between her moms and aunt then back to Gaia. “I don't have any power.”

Artemis smiled at her daughter and placed a hand on the small of her back. “Yes you do Lexie, you always have. You just chose to ignore it, preferring to do things your own way.”

The room was so quiet Lexie could hear and distinguish everyone's breathing, one ragged breathe standing out above all the others. Chancing a glance past her mom she was met by a set of uncomprehending green eyes and seeing them caused her a small pain. Unable to look into those eyes any longer she focused on Gaia again wanting to know what was happening.

Being intuitive to others was second nature for Gaia and she answered Lexie's questions before she even had a chance to ask them. “It doesn't have to change anything Lexie. What you do with your powers is up to you as it always has been. Your life is your own to do with what you will. You are still The Protector, the rest is as they say, yours.” Reaching a hand out to Artemis, Gaia pulled her daughter towards her until both their hands were entwined and she held them up to her chest. “You've done a great job oh daughter mine. With everything you do you make me proud. Beyond all else you are my greatest creation.”

“Thank you mother.” Artemis smiled as Gaia kissed her forehead then released her and turned to her daughter in law.

“Athena thank you for giving me a granddaughter I can be so proud of. I always knew you were the perfect one for my daughter the moment you were born.”

Athena stepped forward and bowed her head. “Thank you Gaia, for it is Artemis who gives my life true meaning.”

The pairing of Artemis and Athena had been one of the happiest moments of Gaia's life and now she had another moment to add to that one. She leaned forward and kissed Athena's brow then smiled her approval on the woman. Turning back to her daughter and granddaughter Gaia stood tall. “Now if you will excuse me I have some reassuring and settling of ruffled feathers to do.” She looked at Lexie with a smile that said ‘you better listen to what I am saying'. “Lexie dear, grant your old Gran a favor and try not to do that again. It has a tendency to upset a lot of people, not to mention what it does to the creatures.” Turning on her heel and walking away from the small group she came to an abrupt halt and called over her shoulder. “Aphrodite, a moment please.”

Aphie looked up at her sister and swallowed. She looked as though she had just been called to the principal's office. “Yes ma'am.” She squeaked as she hurried over to the waiting woman.

Lexie cast her eye over the creatures that were still remaining perfectly still and wondered how long it would last once Gaia was gone. “Mom, would you mind getting them home before something else happens?”

“Of course dear.” Athena walked over to the Minotaur and after speaking with him to make sure he was all right she sent him on his way, shimmering him out of sight and back to his labyrinth.

Aphrodite walked up and put an arm around Lexie's shoulder as a bright golden light behind her shined for a moment then disappeared. “How you doing kid?”

“What was that all about?” Artemis asked giving Aphie a suspicious glare?

“Just girl talk, your moms really cool Artie.” Aphie knew how much Artemis hated the nickname, but in all the excitement it just slipped out. Now she watched as blue eyes narrowed to slits and knew she needed to put some distance between them. “I'm just going to go help Athena.”

Artemis watched the blonde run to her sister's side and one by one the two of them sent the remaining creatures home. When she looked back to her daughter she was surprised to see apprehension and fear so clearly across her face. Following Lexie's line of sight she found Mac and Greer still standing where she had left them. Both women seemed to be in shock. She placed a gentle hand on the shoulder next to her. “Talk to them Lexie, they'll understand.” Her upper lip curled in displeasure as she pulled her hand away from the sticky gory mess. “And take a shower.” She muttered as her daughter walked over to her friends.

Mac followed Lexie's path with her eyes feeling like she was only just starting to get to know her friend. “Hey.” She said when Lexie stopped in front of them.

“Hey.” Lexie replied trying to give her best friend a reassuring smile. She attempted to look into Greer's eyes but the woman would not look any higher than the bloody sword still clutched in her hand.

Mac had seen a lot of scary things during her time with Lexie, things that according to her world should not exist but did. One more chapter in the mystery that was Lexie had just revealed itself. And one look told her just how much of a toll this encounter had taken on her friend. Mac was smart, tough and adaptable so she would process everything that happened in her own time, but right now Lexie looked like she could use a friend. “So, your parents are a couple of Goddesses?”

“It's just a title, they're just my moms.” Lexie said feeling a little lost.

“And Aphrodite is your aunt.” Mac countered with a big smile.

Lexie shot a warning glare in Mac's direction. “And you're still not doing her.”

She turned her attention to Greer as Mac notched it down to a small grin. The blonde still had not said anything and Lexie was beginning to worry. “Greer?” Lexie shifted both swords into one hand and reached out to touch Greer's arm. She stopped halfway when the blonde stiffened at the sight of her hand. It was covered with blood so thick she could barely see her skin and a slow stream dripped off her little finger from a cut above her wrist. Lexie quickly pulled her hand back and tried to hide it at her side. “It's just a small cut.” She said uselessly.

Slow moving green eyes traveled up Lexie's body taking in the multitude of cuts and gashes. Her shirt was soaked and the leathers looked slick with the dark sticky substance. Finally meeting worried blue eyes Greer took a couple of deep breaths before speaking. “Is this what your ‘other' job is like?”

Unable to maintain eye contact Lexie concentrated on the woman's shoulder instead. “It can be.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“There's so much blood.” Greer kept looking at Lexie's body.

“I'm so sorry Greer. You shouldn't have been here. I should have gotten you out sooner. I'm so sorry.” Lexie did not know what to say to make things better. Greer had watched her behead someone and that was one nightmare she could not make go away. She took a quick look over her shoulder where the mage had fallen. The room was clean, no blood, no bodies, no dust. Her mother had removed all evidence of this evenings events including her own families appearance. “Mac, would you take Greer home, make sure she's safe. I have to get cleaned up.” Without waiting for an answer Lexie was gone, taking the stairs three at a time up to her apartment.

Mac reached over and took the sword that was hanging limply from Greer's hand. She set them aside then wrapped an arm around the still in shock woman. “Come on Greer, I know where there's a bottle of Scotch with our names on it.” She led the unresisting woman out the front door and into a cab.

Upstairs Lexie peeled off her clothes and threw them in a steel trashcan she had brought into the bathroom. Later she would burn them, but for right now she simply wanted to stand beneath the steaming hot water and let it wash away every trace of what had just happened. Afterwards she would climb into bed and welcome the sweet oblivion that always took her after such a fight. Even if it were for only a short time she would be able to forget the look of horror and revulsion on Greer's face.



The drive to the north side of the park was a silent one and crawled along at a snails pace. Both women were too caught up in their own thoughts to want or need the comfort of conversation. Mac stared out the window watching the people and buildings pass by. Twilight was always one of her favorite times of day. Everything seemed softer and a little nicer. She liked to walk in the park at this time of day and watch those who were like her, a night person, just stepping out, their senses finally fully awakened for the day. Mac's senses were definitely fully awake right now.

It was not the gruesome sight she had witnessed that had her mind on a tilt-a-whirl; she had seen and been in some fairly incredible fights herself beside Lexie. She had grown accustom to the imaginary come to life. But tonight she learned a new truth about her best friend that was making her mind reel. She had always thought of Lexie as unique, special, one of a kind. When she first learned of Lexie's uniqueness she questioned the girl endlessly about where she had come from and who she was, but the answers she got, when she got one, were short and limited. Lexie was a very private person who kept people just close enough for her own comfort, but never really letting them in. Mac was one of Lexie's closest friends and she had no idea who or what Lexie really was.

The Gilly was, in Mac's opinion the only true Scottish pub in all of Amsterdam . The old brick building with low windows and dark green awnings reminded her of a pub her grandfather use to take her to. It was still too early to be crowded; the patrons at this hour mostly consisted of folks stopping in for a pint on their way home from work. Mac guided Greer to a corner table near the back of the room then went to get their drinks.

Greer was still lost in her own thoughts and only vaguely aware they had left the taxi. She slowly began noticing the people around her and was piecing together that they were in a bar when Mac placed two full glasses of light amber liquid in front of her. Without thinking Greer automatically picked up a glass and took a large drink. Her eyes grew wide and began to water as she chocked down the mouthful instead of spewing it out. “What is this?” She managed to squeak out while trying to catch her breath.

Mac lovingly held her glass up and admired it. “The finest scotch known to man. And it's not made for gulping.” To prove her point she closed her eyes and took a sip, a contented smile slowly spreading across her face.

“I'm not really a scotch person.” Greer said as she finally got her breathing under control.

“Well you are tonight lass, trust me, this was made to soothe the soul.” Taking another sip Mac leaned back against the padded seat and stretched out her long legs getting comfortable.

What the hell Greer thought, her soul could use some soothing. Taking a small sip this time she relaxed into her seat as the smooth liquid warmed its way down her throat and slid down into her belly. She sat for a moment enjoying the sensation before taking another sip. “You're right, this isn't too bad.” She said after a moment then leaned her head back against the brick wall. “Kind of nice actually.”

Mac just smiled in complete agreement and took another sip.



For the next thirty-six hours straight Lexie slept as her body healed itself. Greer stayed in bed nursing a hangover and in general just not wanting to face the world. And Mac woke midday feeling rested and ready to go tinker with something. The nearly full bottle of scotch she and Greer had put away the night before had only loosened her up enough to see that no matter who Lexie's parents were or where her friend was from, one thing was still the same and would always remain that way. Lexie was her best friend and she loved the little woman as much if not more than her family. They had a show to put together and Mac was ready to work.

After one day in bed alternating between sleeping and thinking about everything that had happened the day before, Greer was ready to rejoin the rest of the world. Her every waking moment had been filled with thoughts of Lexie, but now she needed to regain some focus in her life and put things into perspective. And she decided to start with breakfast with her father. She had hardly been around the last few days and wanted an update on how he was doing. After breakfast she quickly fled the house trying to avoid Mrs. Stark's disapproving eye. It was the older woman she had run into when she came stumbling in drunk. Mrs. Stark was all for having a good time, but frowned upon overindulgence.

One thing Greer had realized during her self-imposed quarantine was that since meeting Lexie she had been slack in her office duties. When her father had his stroke Greer moved back home from London to take care of him and subsequently take over his firm. Fortunately at the time she found her presence was not often needed. As CEO she was really only needed to over see the running of things, she could be as hands on or off as she wanted. They had a very competent company president in Alton Jenneries and the firm was as successful as it had ever been since he took the helm. In London she had practiced law, but she now found herself enjoying the break and the management side of the firm was very engaging. After the week she just had, Greer was looking forward to a day of boring meetings and dull conference calls.

Sunlight filled the room and gave it a sense of warmth as Lexie opened her eyes and blinked several times to get them to focus. She was stiff and sore but could not help the small smile that tilted up the corners of her mouth when she laid eyes on the bottles of water, bowl of fruit and basket of croissants sitting on her bedside table. She briefly wondered how she ever managed before Mac had come into her life. Looking around everything was as it should be. She grabbed a bottle and headed for the bathroom. Stepping inside she noted the trashcan with her clothes had been disposed of and she knew her swords had been cleaned and put away. Lexie wondered if Mac sometimes felt like a mother picking up after her messy teenager. Quickly she brushed her teeth then went back for a croissant, banana and another bottle of water before jumping in the shower.

The hot water helped to ease her stiff muscles and sore parts. Lexie felt tired as she stood in front of the full length mirror looking at the scars that had yet to fade. She taped a couple of bad gashes that needed a little more time to heal and dressed in a pair of loose fitting pants and top then headed out to find her partner.

It didn't take long to track down the tall Scot in her computer room working on laying the tracks for the new show. Mac was absorbed in her work at the mixing board and did not notice Lexie until the smaller body leaned itself against her control board.

“You look like your feeling better.” Mac smiled as she stopped the music she was working on.

Lexie simply nodded her head then looked Mac in the eye for a moment. “You have any questions for me Mac?”

For the first time Mac was being given an opportunity to ask anything she wanted and Lexie would finally answer. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but Mac had become accustom to the way she and Lexie operated. Theirs was a tight friendship and it worked. Lexie liked to keep her family life private and had it not been for the big bad that just happened it would have stayed that way. Besides Mac knew the most important things there were to know about her friend; she was good, kind and compassionate, completely loyal and dedicated to those she cared about. So with respect to her friend she replied. “Yeah, I've got fourteen tracks here. Do you suppose you could light a fire under Bertolline's ass to get me the rest? At this rate I won't have the show laid out before the cast gets here.”

It had been an open invitation and Mac passed out of respect for Lexie. Holding the attention of those muddy green eyes Lexie knew just how good of a friend she had in Mac. “I'll get right on it.” She smiled. Lexie stood as if to leave then paused. “Oh and Mac, pack up the kit, we're transferring to Italy .” At Mac's surprised look Lexie explained. “I don't want to bring the kids here. I'll call Jules and have him change their tickets. Leander and Danny can bring the trucks down when the sets are ready. You can pick who you want to drive the vans down.” Clapping her friend on the shoulder Lexie smiled. “You have three days, I'll see you down there.” And with a wave she was gone.

Mac watched Lexie go and had a feeling that was not the entire reason they were not staying in Amsterdam . She suspected a certain green-eyed blonde had more to do with Lexie's retreat than just bad memories.

There was no need to rush, but Lexie ached to get out on the open road and feel the wind against her body. The thrill she got riding her motorcycle across the countryside was equal to any fight she had ever been in. The sun was shining and there was a coolness to the air, it was perfect weather for riding. Back in her room Lexie grabbed a duffle bag and threw a few things in it, mostly workout clothes, then changed into a pair of worn jeans and an old tee shirt. Shoving her feet in a pair of old boots she made her way to the vault to retrieve her katana and the Amazon sword. It was a tight fit, but Lexie made them both fit into the soft travel case she had made for her sword. She ran her fingers over the hilt of her mother's sword and wondered when she would see Artemis again to give it back to her. Time had a different meaning for her family and sometimes years would go by without them seeing or speaking to each other. Before all this started it had been a couple of years since she had seen her mother. Perhaps now they would make an effort to keep in contact more.

Grabbing her leather motorcycle jacket Lexie gathered her things and headed down to the courtyard where her bike was parked. She glanced over the studio as she passed through; everything appeared as it should so she quickly exited the building. Moments later the sleek black bike was making its way through city streets eager to hit the open road.



Two days after Lexie's departure Greer felt she had fully caught up with all the pressing business of her company. Her paperwork backlog would take several more days however. During this time Greer was able to begin processing everything she had seen and learned about the world around her. Monsters really did exist, mythology was just a thinly veiled cover for the truth, and she was in love with a woman who was some kind of superhero and just happened to be over two thousand years old.

Most people would have found any of this hard to believe. Hell, Greer had found it hard to believe, but when presented with empirical evidence, there was no doubt in her mind. Now she just needed to talk to Lexie, and her greatest challenge would be to get the woman to open up to her.

Mid morning Greer found time to drive over to the studio. She parked behind a van in front of the building that was being loaded with suitcases that were coming out of the studio. Spotting Mac carrying a box out Greer jumped out of her car. “Mac, what's going on?”

“Hey Greer!” Mac smiled as she deposited the box in the van. “I was hoping I would get a chance to see you before I left.”

“You're leaving? Why?”

A tall man with white blonde hair walked out carrying two large suitcases. Mac clapped him on the shoulder. “Leander, have you met Greer? She's taking over for Joseph.” The man just smiled and nodded his head.

“Nice to meet you Leander.” Greer said as she held out her hand.

Unsure what to do Leander put one of the suitcases down and shook hands. “Nice to meet you.” He ducked his head again and went back to loading the suitcases.

Mac ushered Greer into the building as she called back over her shoulder. “Hey Lee would you mind finishing without me. I'll meet you at the warehouse later and we can go over the trucks.” She began guiding the blonde to the stairs so that whatever conversation took place was not overheard by those who were not supposed to hear. “Let's go up to my place. Can I offer you a drink?” Mac asked as they climbed the stairs.

Greer stopped and spun around in order to give the woman a proper glare. “Oh no, I am never having a drink with you ever again. I couldn't get out of bed the next day.” She turned at seeing the smirk on Mac's face. “And Mrs. Stark is still giving me the evil eye.” She muttered to herself.

The room did not have a huge pile of clothes in the middle of the floor this time. It did in fact appear quite clean and tidy. Mac waved Greer to a seat and went back to her kitchenette to fix them both a cup of coffee that she had just brewed before Leander showed up. A moment later she carried a tray laden with milk, sugar and two cups of coffee into her sitting room. Mac grinned setting the tray down. “Just coffee, it's even a little too early for me.”

Picking up a cup and inhaling deeply of the aromatic brew, Greer took a grateful sip, letting out an appreciative hum. Mac eyed her suspiciously. “I don't know how you and Lexie can drink this stuff straight.” She said as she added a generous amount of milk and sugar to her own cup.

A large grin spread across the beautiful woman's lips. “So are you off on another trip or just transferring some stuff to the warehouse?” Greer asked as she took another sip and relaxed into her seat a little.

“I'm leaving for Carpenedo tomorrow. So I've been getting everything ready to ship out there.”

“What do you mean ship out?” All of a sudden Greer had a sinking feeling. “Mac, where's Lexie?”

Mac gave the woman a sympathetic smile remembering how frustrating it used to be never knowing where or when Lexie would be. “She left for Italy two days ago.”

“ Italy ? What is she doing there?” Greer was stunned; she had no reason to believe Lexie would not be here.

“We're going to put the show up at the studio down there.”

For a moment neither woman moved nor spoke. And after thinking about it for a moment Greer started to get angry. “Exactly what is her deal? I mean does that woman ever stay in one place for very long? Every time I want to talk to her she has disappeared.” Greer's eyes grew wide as she stopped her ranting and looked at Mac. “Did she…poof?” She whispered as she snapped her fingers, imitating a disappearing act she had once seen on television.

“She rode her bike.”

“She rode a motorcycle to Italy !” Greer exclaimed before starting in again. “She could have called you know, I mean I was just in business meetings, I'm not that hard to reach.”

Before Greer could continue Mac reached over and took the coffee cup out of the gesturing hands. “Greer, I think Lex needs a little space right now. I am pretty sure you and I were witness to something very few if any have ever seen.” Seeing the question in the green eyes that were watching her, Mac explained. “Her family. She never talks about them to anyone. I mean it's no big deal to me, but I kind of understand. Lex has to keep a lot of secrets from the world so it's a little hard for her to let go sometimes. A lot of things happened here and I think she's still trying to deal with it. I mean it's not everyday you find out your grandmother is Gaia.” Mac watched as Greer absorbed all she had said. “Look Lex is probably up to her eyeballs trying to get the studio ready for the cast to arrive, but if you really need to talk to her give her a call.”

“Why, she never answers my calls.” Greer said dejectedly as she began to study her hands sitting limply in her lap.

The sad puppy face was more than Mac could bear. “Call her, I promise you she will answer. She cares about you Greer, it's not meant as a slight, when she doesn't answer it's usually because something big is going on or she's working. Just give her a call.”

Greer looked up and gave Mac a nod. She felt as though she had a real friend in the lanky Scot. “So when am I going to see you again?”

“Well, why don't you give us a little while to get set up and then pop down for a visit? We're not as spread out there, it's a pretty nice set up and who doesn't like a trip to Venice , especially when the company is picking up the tab.”

Yep, Mac was definitely turning out to be a good friend. Greer thought about the stacks of paper work she could put together for Lexie to have to look at and sign. She would give Lexie some time to get herself together and then make an appearance. Greer could be patient when it counted. Mostly.



The old stone farm house sat just outside the town of Zelarino , not far from the heart of Venice . Lexie had it built nearly six hundred years ago. It looked like most traditional Italian country villas, two stories, small balconies off the upstairs bedrooms, a large sweeping terrace partially covered by a pergola for outdoor dinning, and a large outdoor oven and pit for cooking. Plaster covered the walls inside and each room held treasures from times gone by. Shade trees and gardens surrounded the house and patios while olive groves and fruit trees created a buffer around the entire property.

Lexie had been coming to Venice since the cities infancy. Originally she bought a home in the sestieri of San Polo. Caught up in the city life, it had suited her at the time. As the city became more crowded she moved further out looking for a place of peace and relaxation. She kept her house in San Polo where it was now operating as a boutique hotel. When she started the theatrical company she bought a warehouse in the neighboring town of Carpenedo and turned into a studio. The property was large and could easily accommodate the dormitory type house she had built for her company. Unlike in Amsterdam , where they all lived together, Mac and the rest of the company lived on the property in Carpenedo, but Lexie stayed at her home in Zelarino.

With a few days to herself, Lexie first checked on the studio and brought in a cleaning crew to ready it and the dorms. She met with her property manager Marcello, who among other duties, made some of the best olive oil from her olive trees. Marcello stuck to the old ways and believed the olive tree was the most revered of all trees. His wife Teresa looked after Lexie's house and the moment she had called to let them know she was coming, Teresa went shopping to fill the cupboards and small fridge. When Lexie arrived the house smelled of fresh baked bread and homemade minestrone.

Once Lexie was satisfied everything was getting into shape she took off for the sestieri of Castello and her favorite shop, The Tannery. The Reinzo family had been taking care of all Lexie's leather needs for the last two hundred years without ever realizing it was the same woman each generation they had been serving. The shop was run by Signore Roberto Reinzo, his son Luca and his daughter Sarina. Parking her bike in front of the shop Lexie strolled in to look around and admire all the beautifully crafted items.

Luca was busy filling out a work order when he heard the light hum of an appreciative customer approaching. Looking up from his paperwork the middle-aged man broke into a huge smile. “Lexie Artem! It has been a while my friend.” Extending a large calloused hand he clasped the smaller one that was offered to him.

“Luca, how's the world treating you? The shop is looking good.” Lexie smiled as she looked around once again.

“We are doing very good. We are on the internet now.” Luca said with a bit of pride. “We almost have more orders than we can handle.”

Lexie's eyebrows shot up. This last bastion of the old world where every item was hand crafted had finally gone modern. “Does that mean you don't have time for an order from me?”

“For you Lexie, the top of the list. Your family has been doing business with my family since we began this shop. You are always top priority.” He beamed at her.

The youngest member of the Reinzo clan stepped out from the back room and immediately smiled at the small woman on the other side of the counter. “Lexie, you're back.”

“Sarina! Look at you!” The last time Lexie had seen the younger woman had been on one of her visits home from college. The young girl she had remembered had turned into a classic Italian beauty with dark eyes and long flowing brown hair that was sure to cause every man she passed to turn his head. And a few women for that matter Lexie thought. “I take it you are responsible for your family's latest business endeavor?”

“You would have thought I had tried to execute the family the way they carried on at first, but now I think everyone is happy.” She looked at her brother pointedly. “And maybe admit your little sister knows what she's doing.”

Rolling his eyes at Sarina, Luca directed his attention back to Lexie. “What can I do for you Lexie?”

Laughing at the sibling teasing these two obviously enjoyed, Lexie gave her order of a dozen vests, two dozen long coats and pants, and five new pair of boots. Her stock had been taking a beating lately and it had been over six months since the last time she ordered leathers.

“You know I work in a leather shop and even I don't wear that much leather.” Sarina said as she watched Luca write up the order. They had Lexie's patterns on file and Sarina was always amazed when one of the small woman's orders came in that she never changed anything about it.

“I'd say you don't know what you're missing.” Lexie's smile widened giving Luca a wink. Addressing Sarina again she asked. “Looks like you've got a lot of new stuff in, why don't you come out here and sell me an outrageous amount of it.”

Laughing, Sarina joined Lexie on the shop side of the counter and began showing the enthusiastic shopper around. Luca watched his sister easily talk Lexie into clothes, boots, saddlebags, computer bags, gloves and one long soft brown coat that he knew was not the petit woman's size. As Sarina carefully placed each item on the counter Luca thought it had probably been Lexie's purchases alone over the years that put his little sister through college.

Lexie paid for her new purchases and arranged to have them delivered to her house. A last minuet thought had her adding a double back harness for her short swords and a thigh holder for one of her small daggers. Before leaving she pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to Luca. He studied the drawing of a gauntlet when Lexie asked if he could make it for her. Nodding he assured her he would get right on it and she could come back to inspect the prototype the following week. Grabbing a pair of gloves out of her goodie pile, Lexie slipped them on and said her goodbyes.

Sarina watched the woman she had not seen in the last three years pull a helmet over her head and take off on the sleek black bike. “Too bad every customer is not like Lexie.”

“If they were we would have to hire on more staff!” Luca laughed then headed to the back to put in Lexie's order and pull her measurements so he could properly design the gauntlets she wanted.



A week could be a lifetime or a moment depending on your perspective. Greer tried calling Lexie several times only to get her voicemail, but this time the busy artist did manage to call her back within a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately every time Lexie called she would get Greer's voicemail. Nothing was actually talked about in their game of messages. Instead it just gave them a sense of communication, a type of contact. And while Greer was disappointed to not talk with Lexie directly, she was soothed by the effort the woman made at keeping in touch.

Lexie had one week to put together the final touches of the show, which consisted of just her parts, and get ready for the cast to arrive. As instructed Mac showed up three days after Lexie arrived to begin rigging the rehearsal studio with the special equipment they had ordered for the new show. A brand new high tech speaker system needed to be installed and tested for the tour; it was suppose to make the audience feel like they were inside the music. Sound and rhythm flowed around and through them bringing the audience into the show along with the cast.

Slowly dancers started filtering in. The four core members were the first to arrive. Becks and Devon were the aerial captains while Kara and Zolie were the dance captains. Along with Lexie these four would be responsible for teaching the rest of the cast and maintaining the continuity of the show while on the road. Working sixteen hours a day Lexie only had three days to teach her captains enough of the show so they could help when the others arrived.

The rehearsal period at the beginning of any tour was the most grueling and difficult time of any show. Long days of hard physically and mentally draining work would wear on everyone. However at the end of this period of the tour Lexie knew she would have a tight knit and cohesive group of people who started out as strangers only to become a team relying on each other physically, mentally and emotionally. The work of putting together a show was also the work of putting together a family.

Time was flying by for Lexie, her every waking moment was spent in the studio with or without the cast. Almost three weeks had passed since leaving Amsterdam and Lexie was finally been able to distance herself once again from the woman who had taken up permanent residence in a tiny part of her brain. The phone calls had stopped of their own accord as neither woman could ever get in touch with the other. This allowed Lexie to block out the closeness that she and Greer had been reaching before the mage. She only needed to close her eyes to see the look of horror on Greer's face to remind her she could not bring the woman into her world, it was too horrific and dangerous. So once again Lexie closed herself off to everything except her work.

The sets had arrived and Mac was making adjustments with her crew while most of the cast had been sent off for their final costume fittings. Lexie, Becks, Devon , Zolie and Kara were working on an extremely difficult and dangerous routine that involved everyone being in the air at the same time. The dancers had the difficult part, but only Lexie took on the dangerous part. It was late in the afternoon and Lexie wanted to work out the logistics of the stunt while the rest of the cast was out. Becks and Devon were working on a double pair of silks while Lexie was going over the timing with Zolie and Kara, who would be on double bungee harnesses. Everyone was so involved with the work that no one noticed the tall blonde enter the studio.

Greer stood for a moment watching crew members working on set pieces, while the two silks artists were manipulating themselves into the material, Mac sat on the floor working on something that looked like a boulder, and finally her eyes came to rest on the small wonder that had brought her all this way, Lexie. Leaving her suitcase by the door, Greer set her sights on her target and crossed the large space. She stopped just behind Lexie. By now Zolie and Kara had noticed the new arrival and gave her a big smile. “I hope I'm not interrupting.” She said a mere few inches behind Lexie's ear.

With nerves of steel Lexie turned to give the woman a pleasant smile. “Greer, what an unexpected surprise.”

Greer was impressed that the smaller woman had not even flinched. “Well, the game of phone tag got old and I have some important items I need to discuss with you.” Zolie and Kara stepped back several paces to give the women some privacy.

“Right, I wish you would have called first, we are right in the thick of it.” Lexie looked around at the near empty studio and felt her cheeks blush a little at the visual absurdity of her statement.

“I know you're busy, I'm just hoping for a few minutes of your time, maybe we can grab dinner together.” Greer smiled.

“I usually work through dinner.”

“Well, you have to eat sometime.” Greer tried again. She felt like she could almost reach out and touch the wall around Lexie. Taking a deep breath she changed tactics. “Look, I have papers that need your signature and a few files I need to go over with you. I knew your schedule would be busy so I am here for a few days, so whenever you can fit me in.”

Lexie was beginning to feel like she was being ambushed as Mac walked up with a big grin across her face. “Greer! What brings you all the way out here?” Mac said as she gave the blonde a one armed hug.

“Just trying to take care of some business.” Greer said looking pointedly at Lexie.

Lexie had noticed her two aerial partners had wandered off and were now getting themselves into their harnesses. “Greer, I'm sorry you'll have to excuse me, we're right in the middle of….” She was unable to finish her sentence because her performers getting suited up distracted her. Lexie always liked to check the harnesses herself before they were used. She hurried over to Kara and began inspecting each buckle and strap before repeating the process with Zolie.

Greer stood watching the woman walk away presumably ignoring her. Mac could see the anger starting to build behind those beautiful green eyes and she quickly intervened. “It's a safety thing. Lex doesn't let anyone go airborne without checking out their equipment first.”

“She can just be so damn rude sometimes.” Greer huffed, but she let go of her anger.

As Lexie started calling out instructions to her crew and fellow cast members, Mac put a gentle hand under Greer's elbow and began moving them off to the side. “We need to get out of the way. Look, I've got to go, but stay right here.” She pointed to a chair along the wall and Greer took a seat. “I'll be right back.”

Lexie had been formal and distant with her, but Greer was not angry, she did kind of spring herself on the woman. She thought of all her first meetings with Lexie and wondered if they would all be this way until the woman learned to loosen up and relax. She sat watching as Zolie and Kara climbed a ladder against the far wall high into the rafters. Lexie was telling Mac to take her up as Devon and Becks were moving into their start position.

Lexie grabbed a rope hanging down at the opposite end of the building and held on as she was winched up to the rafters where a tied off trapeze waited. Calling out the tempo she watched as Devon and Becks began their routine. Shortly, they were joined by Zolie and Kara who danced on the air with their bungees around the two silk performers creating a type of waltz. Lexie had been keeping the time for them, but she suddenly quieted as she took the trapeze from its hook and sailed down across the large space. As she arched up into the back end of the swing she let go and flew past Kara just as she was bouncing down. Tucking into a flip Lexie dropped to the soft boulder Mac had been working on and sailed up into the air as if being shot out of a cannon. The two silk performers had hooked their ankles and were spinning around, just as they released each other Lexie flew between them and headed straight for Zolie. Executing a series of full layouts she easily soared above the man's head and disappeared into the rafters. The bungee dancers continued on, as did the silk performers until completing the routine.

Applause broke out from the crew and Mac looked almost satisfied as she headed back over to where Greer sat completely stunned. The blonde looked to the rafters hoping Lexie would be on her way down, but instead the small flying woman was deep in conversation with her fellow performers who were still attached to their bungees and sitting on the beams as if in a chair on the ground.

“She's insane isn't she?” Greer said as Mac took a seat next to her.

“She's a flying squirrel that one.” Mac said with a grin.

“That was… I mean she…is it because of her,” Greer lowered her voice, “you know?”

Mac shook her head and knew that the only person who could hear them in this entire building was Lexie if she wanted to. “Lexie is stronger, faster, has better balance, vision, hearing and smell than the rest of us, but she can do that,” Mac nodded up to the ceiling, “because she is damn good at what she does. Granted she would never let one of the kids try it, because if she were to fall and get hurt, she'd heal, anyone else would kill themselves.”

They sat for a few moments in silence thinking about the stunt Lexie had just pulled off. Mac knew she needed to get back to work and she needed to get Greer out of here. “So where are you staying Greer?”

Greer refocused her attention on her companion. “I'm not sure yet. I didn't know how spread out things were going to be here, on paper it sounds a little different. I was hoping you could suggest a place.”

Reaching into her jeans pocket, Mac pulled out a key ring. She slipped an odd shaped key off the ring and handed it to Greer. “This is to Lexie's house, she has lots of extra bedrooms.”

Greer blanched at the key that had just been dropped into her hand. “What? Oh no, no, no, no, it's one thing for me to come to the studio unannounced, but I can't just walk into Lexie's house uninvited.”

“Look I would offer you a room in the dorm, but we're all full right now. Lexie's not going to mind. Besides you're here to see her right? The best place to catch her is at home. You can't do that from a hotel. Here at the studio she'll never have a minute to spare. Trust me, it'll be fine.” Greer gave the grinning Scot a suspicious look before finally agreeing with a nod. “Good, I'll have one of my riggers drive you out there.” Mac stood and offered Greer a hand. “Oh and if there's an older lady there cooking, that's just Teresa, tell her Mac sent you and you're a guest of Lexie's.”

High above Lexie kept an eye on the two tall blondes as they walked out the door. She decided she would have to find a very special and slow form of torture for her friend Mac. At the same time she wondered just how long she could avoid going home. Lexie may have appeared disinterested in Greer on the outside, but inside she was in turmoil.



The van made its way down the winding wooded drive until the trees finally gave way to a charming old villa. Bougainvillea reached up the walls and ivy crept like a bow tie under the lower windows. Every window was open and the soft sounds of an aria could be heard when Greer stepped out of the vehicle. Someone was obviously home and she was unsure if she should use the key she had been given. Luckily the decision was made for her, just as she was about to knock an older man came around the house on the small stone path. He wore an old pair of overalls and a long sleeved shirt that was worn at the cuffs and thinned at the elbows and he gave a friendly wave as he moved towards Greer. Shifting from one foot to the other unsure that she was in the right place, Greer smiled and waited.

“Don't bother knocking, she won't hear you.” Marcello called out as he made his way to their guest. “Buon giorno signorina, you are the friend of signorina Lexie?”

“Yes, I'm Greer.” Greer liked the man immediately and she held out her hand. Perhaps it was the twinkle in his eyes that made her feel welcome.

Marcello took the hand offered gently into his own and shook it. “Si, signorina Greer. Come, Teresa has your room ready.” Picking up her suitcase he opened the front door and waved her in. As soon as they were inside he bellowed to his wife. “Teresa! Andiamo! Andiamo!”

The clatter of plates could be heard coming from the back of the house and soon a plump and vigorous looking woman appeared in the hall wiping her hands on a dish towel. “Stop yelling old man, they can hear you all way to the piazza.” Teresa admonished her husband then turned a friendly smile on their guest. “He no can hear so he thinks no one else can either. Buon giorno, I Teresa.” Reaching out and taking the younger woman's hand Teresa gave her husband another reprimanding look. “Well, go on take the signorina's bagagli up.” The woman turned again to Greer. “You must be tired after long trip, I get you something? I show you around and then we leave you to yourself, pacifico.”

“Hello.” Greer managed to get in before the woman could take off again.

“I just finishing some torte I must put in the forno. Come into the kitchen and I fix you a drink.” Teresa took off back down the same hallway she entered from. Marcello had already gone upstairs with her bag so Greer had no choice but to follow the busy woman.

Walking into the old kitchen Greer felt like she had somehow gone home, not her home in Amsterdam , but a home that is in each and every one of us. It smelled of the garden and spices, coffee and years of good cooking. A long slab of granite served as the counter against one wall with a big double farm sink in the middle. Rough hand-made cabinets hung above the counter surrounding a window above the sink, and the sill was full of ripening tomatoes waiting to be used. The counter was thinly coated with a fine dusting of flour and a dozen small pastries filled with garden vegetables sat ready to go into the oven along with a large pie. A large sturdy farm table made of wide wooden planks took up most of the center of the room. While baskets of vegetables and herbs, picked that morning from the garden, waited for their turn to be transformed into a masterpiece. Miss-matched wooden chairs were scattered around the table and room. And a shelving unit against the far wall held an assortment of dishes, cups, glasses, mixing bowls and containers of every size. The ancient gas stove was currently where three loaves of bread sat atop cooling having just come out of the oven. The smell was pure comfort.

Teresa was busy opening cabinets under the counter and pulling out pans for her pastries. Once she had gotten her pie and pastries safely in the oven the older woman turned her attention to Greer once again. She beamed with pride as she walked over to the object of Greer's puzzled expression. “Is the migliore refrigerator. I make Lexie get rid of old icebox years ago. The way she eats I must have good refrigerator freezer.”

Looking around again Greer noticed that the kitchen was not as outdated as it had first appeared. An old coffee pot sat on one burner of the stove, but next to it on the counter was a French press. A blender and food processor were discreetly placed on the counter under one of the cabinets. Despite their modern shinny glean they seemed to fit right in with the strings of herbs hanging from the rafters and the medieval looking apple coring device attached to the counter.

Teresa poured Greer a glass of her fresh lemonade and told their guest to make herself at home. With refreshments in hand she led Greer upstairs to show her to her room, pointing out the bathroom and where the towels were kept along the way. Then she left the young woman to get settled in as she hurried off to continue her dinner preparations.

The bedroom held a modest amount of furniture that had been collected over the centuries. Greer moved her suitcase to the bench at the foot of the bed and began unpacking. She had not brought a lot, but she wanted to hang up her clothes before they wrinkled too badly. The task did not take long and after depositing her toiletries in the bathroom Greer decided to explore the rest of the house.

On either side of the hall were two bedrooms with a bathroom between them. Lexie's bedroom and bath were at the far end of the hall. Opposite from it was a bedroom that had been converted into an office. Other than the mattresses, the office seemed to hold the only other signs of the modern world. Greer could not help notice that she had been put in the bedroom furthest from Lexie's.

All the furnishings were very comfy and cozy giving the place a well lived-in feel, even though there was hardly ever anyone here. Downstairs was no exception. A dinning room off the kitchen could easily seat ten while the sitting room was a jumble of comfortable chairs and sofas haphazardly placed around the room. An impressive stereo unit took up half a bookcase while pile after pile of books were stacked against every chair and table leg. Books seemed to flow of their own accord off the crowed shelves looking for a bit more breathing room. There was a formal sitting room that did not look quite so lived in. The sofas, tables and chairs were arranged in a much more orderly manner and a beautiful old grand piano took up center court. Greer ran a gentle finger over the ivories and wondered if Lexie played the instrument.

Moving back to the book room, as Greer dubbed it, she perused the shelves until she found a book that caught her interest. Taking the book and her lemonade Greer moved to the back patio and found a comfy lounge chair to sit and read in until Lexie came home. No sooner had she sat down than Teresa brought out a tray of cheese, grapes and figs. She thanked the kindly woman for the thoughtful gesture as she made herself comfortable then opened her book on the myths and legends of the ancient Greeks.

As the sun began to set Marcello came round the house to collect his wife to go home. Teresa was fussing over Greer making sure the girl was comfortable and laid out her dinner for her. When Greer realized that Lexie was not coming home anytime soon she persuaded the older couple to have dinner with her since there was so much food and she did not see why Teresa should have to go home and cook all over again.

Sitting at the big kitchen table the three settled into their bounty of delicious food, a bottle of local wine and friendly conversation. Without prying too much Greer was able to learn that her two companions had worked for Lexie for the last twenty years and the house had been in Lexie's family for nearly six hundred years. Greer thought about all the paperwork she had found on the Venice account and realized the house had probably always been Lexie's, no family, just Lexie. This thought made Greer a little sad, thinking how lonely Lexie must get. Before she could get lost in her own thoughts Greer was quickly brought back into the conversation as Teresa was telling her about her son who lived in America with his family. This probably explained why they spoke such good broken English.

After dinner Greer insisted on cleaning up so the couple could go home and enjoy the rest of their evening. She quickly finished in the kitchen then went upstairs and took a shower. She read some more as she tried to wait up for Lexie, but the day's activities caught up with her and before long she fell fast asleep.

Sometime long after midnight Lexie quietly let herself into the kitchen. Grabbing a plate of caprese and a couple of vegetable pastries she made her way up to her bedroom taking care not to disturb the quiet of the night.

Early the next morning Lexie carried her boots and empty plates down to the kitchen, making sure not to make a sound. As she entered the room she almost dropped her plates at the sight of a dressed and ready to go Greer sitting at the big table.

Greer smiled at the woman she knew had been trying to ditch her. “I was going to have coffee ready for you, but I'm not sure how to work that pot. Exactly which century is that thing from anyway?”

Lexie moved to the sink and placed her dishes in it. “Good morning Greer. I wouldn't let Teresa catch you talking that way about her coffee pot, she absolutely loves that thing.”

“Morning Lexie. Heading off to work so soon?” Greer continued to sit with her hands folded on the table.

“Well.” Lexie grabbed the coffee pot and began filling it with water. “Why don't I make us some coffee?”

“That would be lovely, thank you. Is there anything I can do to help, can I make you breakfast?” Greer offered as she watched Lexie fiddling with the stove.

Lighting the stove, Lexie put the coffee pot on then went to the fridge and pulled out the pie. She placed it in the warming oven and began pulling cups and dishes out of the cabinet. “That's okay, I've got it.” Lexie stopped in mid motion and considered something. “That is unless you want something other than pie for breakfast.”

“Depends, if you are talking about that apple, pear, raspberry, current thing I had last night. It was amazing, Teresa is an excellent cook.” Unable to sit anymore, Greer helped set the table and pulled the ice cream out of the freezer.

When Lexie saw the carton of vanilla on the table she could not help but grin at the blonde. “Greer, I knew you and I got along for some reason.” She filled two cups of coffee and pulled the pie out of the oven. Serving up two huge slices she was once again happily surprised when Greer served up two large scoops of ice cream atop each slice.

The quiet of the morning was only interrupted by the sound of clanking silverware on stoneware plates as the two women sat enjoying their breakfast. Finally it was Lexie who broke the silence. “So you have some papers for me to sign? Why don't you leave them with me and I can get them back to you after I've had a chance to look them over.”

“It's probably quicker if I just explain them to you. Perhaps you can come back a little earlier tonight, it won't take long and then I was hoping we could talk.”

Lexie was getting that overwhelming feeling again. “Look Greer, I really have to get to work. I'm sorry, I just don't have time for…”

“For what? Me?” Greer almost shouted with frustration. “You have time for everyone else; Mac, your cast, the crew, your parents, mystical creatures, strangers. What did I do? Why can't you even look at me?” Greer stood and blocked Lexie as the smaller woman made to leave.

Lexie stood staring at the shoes blocking her path. Her heart was pounding and her breathing was becoming quick and shallow, she really did not want to deal with this right now. Taking a deep breath she raised her chin to meet Greer's eyes.

Greer looked into light grey eyes, as they were slowly turning darker, involuntarily she gasped and took a step back. She had never seen eyes the color that Lexie's were now. It had startled her not to see the brilliant blue she was expecting.

“That's why.” Lexie whispered, barely able to speak. Hurriedly she brushed past Greer and was gone before the shocked woman realized she had moved. And before Greer could make it to the kitchen door Lexie was already on her bike speeding off down the driveway.






It was far too early for anyone to be up much less in the studio working so Lexie was able to throw herself into a hard punishing workout. The startled look on Greer's face had once again torn at Lexie. She opened the floor tracks and pulled out the big tramps then dropped the large twelve foot by twelve foot grid and set it in motion. Trying to push Greer from her mind she climbed a pipe running up the wall in the corner closest to where her trapeze hung. Reaching the rafters she leap from beam to beam until she could grab the trapeze from its hook and swing out. She pushed through two arcs to gain enough momentum then let go and flew across the studio and into the fast moving grid. Diving through the upper center square, Lexie easily caught the outer edge of the grid on its upward rotation. Her body was a blur as she moved through the grid spinning flipping and diving to the trampoline below. By using the momentum of the three square by four square grid Lexie propelled herself across the studio to bounce from trampoline to trampoline and using anything hanging in the air around her to add even more instability to her workout. For more than two hours she hurled herself through space, but the image of Greer's pale face would not leave her.

In a move that would have crippled or killed anyone else, Lexie dropped to the ground from the rafters landing on only her toes and fingertips. Dripping with sweat and not wanting to think anymore she plopped down on the floor. Two seconds later a towel hit her in the face and when she looked up Mac was holding out a bottle of water as an offering.

“How long have you been here?”

Dropping down next to her friend, Mac pulled her knees up wrapping her arms around them. “So what did you do?”

Lexie raised an eyebrow as she took a long drink nearly empting half the bottle. “What makes you think I did something?”

“Because that was one of your ‘I screwed up workouts' and your eyes are dark.”

“What possessed you to send that woman to my house?”

Mac watched as anger sadness and fear briefly flashed across Lexie's face. She placed her head on her knees and carefully watched her best friend. “Because you need to talk.”

Lexie shot her a glare that would send most people running. “You don't scare me.” Mac gave Lexie a half smile.

Lexie's head dropped to her chest for a moment. “I scare her.”

Mac rolled her head on her knees letting Lexie know she was wrong. “This is all new to her Lex, be patient.” She watched as Lexie conceded the point. “She likes you.” The pain could clearly be seen before Lexie closed her eyes to hide it. “And you like her.”

“No.” Lexie snapped her head up to meet Mac's eyes.


The muscles in Lexie's jaw were jumping as the woman fought her emotions. “I don't have room in my life for someone like that.”

Mac sat up and turned to face the woman she loved and respected. “Like what? Someone who wants to be with you, know you, love you, laugh and cry and have sex with you? Lex, I've had some bad relationships with women before, and I'm not really into relationships, but you must have had the doozie of all bad relationships.” Mac watched, as Lexie seemed to shrink and close in on herself. “I've never asked, but what happened Lex? Who broke your heart so badly?”

A full two minutes passed before Lexie even took a breath. Then quietly, so quietly Mac was not sure Lexie had really spoken. “I did.” Lexie jumped up and took a couple of steps toward the small canteen at the back of the space. Turning she motioned with her head for Mac to follow. She grabbed another bottle of water and downed it while she made a pot of coffee. Mac leaned on the doorframe and watched as her little friend moved about, wondering if the woman was really going to talk to her about something so personal. After pouring two cups of coffee Lexie handed one to Mac. “Come on, I need some air.”

The yard between the studio and the dorm was large with a few flowerbeds around the buildings and shade trees were scattered about to create lovely resting places. Over the years benches, chairs and hammocks had found their way under the shady boughs. Lexie walked to the furthest spot where a couple of deck chairs and a bench were huddled together. She curled up in one of the chairs and sipped her coffee while she waited for Mac to stretch out in the other.

“I've had relationships in my life, they usually don't last very long, which is probably odd considering how long my life has been. It's hard on someone when they grow old and the person they love never ages. But Inessa was different. She was seventeen when we met; it was a beautiful spring day in 1648 and I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life. Long light brown hair the color of a new fawn and hazel eyes that could look straight into my soul. We were in the North Country and even though it was spring there was still a chill in the air. Inessa's family didn't have much money and instead of a warm coat she had a thin shawl wrapped around her shoulders. I had a thick warm coat and I took it off and wrapped it around her, we talked for a long time and when we parted I insisted she keep the coat. For the next couple of days we would meet at the same place along the path and talk. I had to leave, back then I traveled constantly, wherever my work would take me. And without either of us asking, Inessa left with me. We were together for the next eighteen years and those were the happiest years of my life.”

Lexie stopped for a moment and stared into her coffee cup then poured the cold liquid onto the ground beside her. Watching the dark liquid soak into the earth she began again. “Dark and evil magic was everywhere back then. There was a particularly evil enpusa, a demon by the name of Caladar. And she had used the dark magic to breed a pack of demons to destroy man. I had been tracking them and slowly eliminating the creatures. Caladar was enraged when her army of nearly a hundred was suddenly down to two. That day I had been out tracking them when I heard the screams. Caladar had somehow found out about Inessa and thought she had found a way to stop me. By the time I reached the clearing the only sounds I could hear were the creatures ripping Inessa's body into so many pieces. Her blood was everywhere soaking into the ground and her…” Lexie faltered as the memory of seeing her lover torn to pieces was momentarily overwhelming. Taking a deep breath she continued. “Caladar was there and she threatened if I did not leave her alone she would see to it that everyone I cared about would meet the same end. And when I fell to my knees she laughed. She called to her demons, but before they could leave, suddenly there were little tiny pieces of the enpusa and her minions everywhere. I don't even remember killing them, but I was covered in their blood. I collected all that was left of Inessa and buried her high in the Carpathian Mountains . She loved those mountains.”

Mac sat motionless, tears pooling in her eyes, as she listened to Lexie's devastating story. Finally she was able to find her voice when the silence between them lingered for too long. “I am so sorry Lex.”

“I've never loved anyone the way I loved Inessa.” Lexie stared into her empty coffee cup again. “Until now.”

Mac's eyes widened just a bit, she could not believe she had just heard Lexie confess her love for Greer. Before she could respond Lexie looked up at her and continued. “You are the closest friend I have Mac, and I know I keep you at arms length, but do you understand why?” She could see the doubt in the moist muddy green eyes that stared back at her. “People close to me are in danger. Why do you think I've pushed you so hard in your training? You're the only person who can come close to keeping up with me with a sword. It doesn't make you safe, but it gives you a fighting chance.”

“Lex, Greer…”

“No. I can't go through that again.” Lexie jumped up and started to walk away, but was caught from behind as Mac wrapped her long arms around the retreating body.

Holding tight, Mac knew Lexie could easily break away if she really wanted to. She pressed her cheek to the top of the wild auburn head and whispered. “I love you Lex, you're my best friend and as your friend I am telling you to talk to her. It's Greer's life as well and she deserves a say, she deserves to know the truth.”

Leaning back into the comfort of Mac's strong body Lexie let out a deep sigh. “She's afraid of me Mac, you didn't see her face that night.”

“We were all a little afraid that night Lex. Please just talk to her.” Mac let go and Lexie stepped away. “And Lex,” Lexie looked over her shoulder, “you might want to take a shower first.”

Lexie narrowed her eyes at taller woman and glared as Mac took the cup out of her hands and walked back to the studio.

By now a few people were milling around inside, talking and stretching, getting ready for another long hard day. Lexie walked in just as Becks was heading out in search of her. She handed over Lexie's phone, which had been going off alerting her to a text. Thanking her Lexie read the emergency message. She was needed in Norway . Just as she was about to head to the locker room to change, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she turned just in time to come face to face with a very angry Greer.

Before Lexie could speak Greer started in her ‘controlled angry' voice, just loud enough for people around to hear with out actually yelling. “Lexie Artem if you ever walk out on me in the middle of a conversation again I will make your life a living hell. Do you understand me? You walk out, you run away, you don't answer your phone, who the hell do you think you are anyway? I do not appreciate being treated that way and I will not tolerate it. I don't care who you're related to, it's no excuse for bad manners.”

“You obviously don't know my family. Look Greer I'm sorry, but I have to go. And I need…”

“Are you kidding me?” This time Greer did yell and all movement in the place came to halt as everyone stared at them. “Did you hear a word I just said?”

“Yes.” Lexie calmly explained as if talking to a small child. “And I need you to come back to the house with me right now. Please.”

“I just came from there. We are not going anywhere until we have talked.” Greer crossed her arms over her chest and defied Lexie to walk out on her again.

Lexie rolled her eyes in exasperation then held out her cell phone. “Could you hold this please?”

Greer was confused. “What?”

“Could you hold this?” As soon as Greer reached out and took the phone Lexie scooped the woman up and threw her over her shoulder fireman style. Turning she headed out the back door to her bike. The entire time Greer was yelling a litany of obscenities at her that would make a sailor blush. She sat the screaming woman down on the seat of her bike and when Greer made to jump off she shoved a helmet in her midsection. “Don't even think about it. Put the helmet on and quiet down.” Lexie growled at her in her best threatening voice.

For the moment Greer did as she was told. When she had the helmet on and Lexie was starting the bike she said very loudly in the woman's uncovered ear. “You are the rudest person I have ever met.”

Lexie just smirked. “I'd hold on if I were you.” Gunning the engine she sped off out of the parking lot and back towards Zelarino. Her smirk getting even bigger as Greer wrapped her arms around the small waist in front of her, holding on for dear life.

The trip back to the house had not taken nearly as long as Greer's taxi ride to the studio due to the breakneck speed Lexie was driving. When they arrived Lexie helped Greer off the bike and dropped the helmet back on the handlebars. She waited for a moment indicating that Greer should go first into the house. When the blonde refused to move Lexie took her hand and practically dragged her in. They didn't stop until they were upstairs and in Greer's room. Lexie released her unwilling guest as soon as they entered the room.

“I know you are mad at me Greer, and I'm sorry, but right now I have an emergency in Norway I have to take care of, and I'm really sorry about the timing but this is my job, it's what I do. I would like it if you would stay here and wait for me. I'll be back no later than tomorrow, but I'll understand if you don't want to. Mac's birthday is in two days and I am going to throw her a party, I would really like it if you would come, it would mean a lot to Mac.” Lexie waited for any kind of reply and when she did not get one she knew she had hurt the blonde once again. “You're right Greer, we need to talk, but I have to take care of this first, people's lives depend on me.” She waited once again for a response and smiled when Greer finally gave a single nod. “Thanks Greer.” Turning on her heel she quickly walked to her room.

Once there she pulled off her workout clothes and walked into the bathroom. There she stepped into a cold shower just long enough to wash off the smell of sweat before heading back into her room to put on her leathers. As she was pulling on her boots Greer appeared at her door. The blonde lingered in the opening seeming afraid to enter.

“So what's in Norway ?” Greer asked quietly.

“Some people were attacked and killed by wolves, they're blaming it on Fenrir's pack. That pack is peaceful, their being set up and now someone's hunting them.”

“Wolves? You're going to see wolves?”

Lexie stood and slid her baldric in place. “Fenrir is a friend. And humans are being killed. I have to go.” She reached into her closet and pulled out her katana and long black coat.

Greer watched nervously as the sword was sheathed and then hidden when Lexie slipped the long coat on. An involuntary shiver ran down her spine at the sight of Lexie in all that leather. She wanted to say something but didn't know what was appropriate. “So it's Mac's birthday?”

Lexie looked up and gave the woman a small smile. “Yeah, and I want to give her the best party possible. Since you're staying would you mind helping to get the place ready for it? Mac isn't supposed to know about it, which means she already does. Teresa is handling the food and Becks is in charge of getting the house ready. You have access to all my funds so go crazy and get whatever you think would be good. Mac deserves the best.” Greer finally smiled. “Okay, now I need you to do me another favor. I've only done this a few times, I normally take my bike, but I'm really short on time. I need you to step out for a minute.” The other woman gave her a quizzical look but started to move for the door. “And Greer,” she waited for Greer to look at her, “thanks for staying.” Greer nodded and stepped out of the room. Taking a deep breath Lexie closed her eyes and shimmered away into nothingness.

A moment later Greer called out. “Lexie can I come back in?” She stuck her head around the door jam only to find an empty room. Blinking several times it struck Greer that she should be more surprised than she was. It had not exactly been the day she had been hoping for, but Greer felt a small sense of relief knowing that Lexie had wanted her to stay. She still was not sure how she would make Lexie pay for throwing her over her shoulder and carrying Greer out of the studio like a sack of potatoes in front of all those people, but she was sure she would think of something. Contemplating revenge schemes Greer headed downstairs in search of Teresa to see what help she could be in the party preparations.



Deep in the dark forests of the North Country was Fenrir's territory. The moment Lexie materialized among the tall pines, she began reaching out, searching for any trace of the large animal. Picking up a scent she raced through the woods unseen and unheard until she knew she was closing in on her objective. Slowing to a brisk walk, Lexie moved into the small meadow to meet the enormous wolf. He towered above Lexie as his head and shoulders stood at least six feet from the ground. She could sense the pack around her even though not a single wolf could be seen.

“Fenrir,” she called as she entered the clearing, “it's good to see you old friend.”

“Thank you for coming so quickly Little Pup, I did not know about the attacks on the humans until it was too late or I would have done something to prevent it.” The great wolf looked down on his friend with deep sadness. The animal's shoulders were hunched down and he looked as if he were carrying a great weight. “Now these wolves hunt my pack, only attacking when someone has wandered off alone.”

“I need you to take me to the place of the last kill.” Lexie's patience with the dark forces of the world was wearing thin lately. Seeing the toll these attacks had taken on the great and mighty beast made her doubly set to end this quickly. “Tell your pack to close in but to stay here. No one is to set out on their own.”

Once the orders were given the large wolf took off with Lexie close on his heels. Ten minutes later they were miles away from where they had started. A lingering trace of the dark magic still hung in the air causing the hair on both the wolf and humans neck to rise. Walking around the blood stained ground Lexie kneeled and touched the earth, she stilled herself as she reached out with all her senses once again, slowly turning until she had a fix on her prey.

“Go back to your pack Fenrir, this all ends today.”

The large wolf looked deep into the dark grey eyes and knew his friend had pick up something he could not. “I should come with you.”

Lexie stepped over and placed a gentle hand on the mighty shoulder. “No my friend, you called me and I will handle it, take care of your pack.” Before the wolf could insist on going with her, Lexie turned on her heal and took off so fast that even the great wolf Fenrir could not track her movement.

Nearly forty miles north Lexie slowed and came to a stop in front of a dark cave entrance. The smell of earth and magic was strong and as soon as Lexie stepped forward she spotted two sets of glowing yellow eyes coming at her from deep in the darkness. Taking two steps back she drew her sword and took off the head of the first wolf as it leapt from the mouth of the cave. She side stepped the other one coming up fast on the left, but a powerful paw managed to reach out and swipe at her face leaving two deep cuts running along the length of her jaw. Already anticipating the animal's next move she spun around and swung up decapitating the beast. Lexie was in no mood to play games and the interruptions to her life at the moment had put her in a foul mood.

Entering the cave Lexie could smell earth, metal, sweat and magic. Her sword at the ready she continued forward into the darkness, down to the entrance into Svartalfheim and the world of the Dwarfs. Fortunately she did not have to go far to find who she was looking for.

A dark and dirty man with a long beard stepped from behind a boulder to sneer at her, his strong arms clutching a battle-axe. “You have no power here Lexie, you come into our world looking for blood and that will mean war.” The man spat, glaring at her with defiance.

“Alvis, you used dark magic on those wolves to kill humans just to take down Fenrir. I have every right to be here.”

He had to look up at Lexie as she stood a good six inches taller than he did. Jutting out his beard-covered chin he snarled. “You can't prove that it was me.”

Lexie coolly looked down at him. “You shouldn't have gotten so close to the kill, but you couldn't contain your excitement could you? The earth holds your imprint. Your scent is still in the air there. And no one can mistake your stench.”

Raising the battle-axe the dwarf growled as he swung looking to split the woman in half. Only she had already anticipated his move and flipped over the man, striking out with her katana before she even landed.

The bearded head rolled off its broad shoulders to land in the dirt next to the battle-axe that was still clutched in grubby dirty hands. Lexie did not bother waiting to see the body turn to dust. She stepped over the dark dwarf and headed for the mouth of the cave. “Go to Helheim Alvis.” As she stepped into the fading light, her jaw clenched and holding tight to her katana, Lexie walked away shimmering into nothing as she went.


With one step Lexie was in the forest, the next she was in her own bedroom back in Zelarino. Coming to a stop Lexie finally took several deep breaths. She was not use to teleporting and was surprised she hadn't wound up coming back inside the chimney because she had been so angry with the dark dwarf. Her shoulders were like piano strings and Lexie tried rolling her head back and forth to relieve some of the tension. She stepped into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Grabbing a towel she set about cleaning her sword as she stepped back into the bedroom. Before she could finish Greer walked through her open door. Lexie looked up to see wide green eyes staring at her sword and bloody towel. It was the same look she had seen on the woman's face before.

“Greer.” As those wide eyes met her own, Lexie turned away, not wanting to see the monster she felt she was reflected back in those beautiful green eyes. “You should go.”

Greer stepped up behind Lexie. “You're hurt.” Concern filled her voice.

Lexie carefully laid her katana on a dresser and tried to hide the bloody towel by slipping off her coat and laying it over both items. “It's not my blood.” She could feel Greer at her back but still could not bring herself to look at her.

A gentle finger reached around and touched Lexie's cheek above the cuts on her jaw. “You're hurt.” Greer said again. She could see Lexie was having a hard time looking at her, but was not sure why. She tried to get the woman to turn around, but Lexie just pulled away instead.

“It's just a scratch. I need to take a shower, if you'll excuse me.” Lexie moved to the bathroom door and stopped. Looking at the floor over her shoulder she whispered, “I'm sorry Greer.” before stepping in and closing the door.

Turning the hot water on all the way, Lexie stepped into the shower and just stood under the blast of heat, letting it ease the tension in her neck and shoulders somewhat. She stood there until the water began cooling then quickly bathed before finally stepping out. Her greatest desire now was to crawl into bed and try not to think about anything.

Lexie had one towel wrapped around her and was drying her hair with another when she stepped out of the bathroom. Just as she was going to toss both towels aside she caught sight of Greer sitting on the edge of the very bed she so desperately wanted to crawl into. “Greer!” Lexie had never suffered a modest day in her life, but suddenly she found herself clutching the towel around her even tighter.

Greer sat perfectly still trying to ignore the nearly naked body in front of her. Instead she chose this moment to get some answers from Lexie at last. “Why did you say you were sorry?”

“Greer, I have no clothes on here.” Lexie waited for the woman to leave, but when she did not budge she tossed her hands up. “Fine.” Walking into her closet Lexie tossed the towel off behind her giving Greer a quick peek at her backside before disappearing further back in the large enclosure to find a pair of sweat pants and a tee shirt to put on.

At the sight of the tightly muscled shoulders and firm legs and absolutely perfect rear end, Greer felt a blush rush up from her chest to the top of her head. Taking slow steady breaths she was not going to let the sight of the most beautiful body she had ever seen distract her. When the smaller women reemerged in baggy sweats and an old tee shirt it did nothing to dampen the beauty and sex appeal that was all Lexie.

Retrieving one of the towels she had dropped, Lexie began rubbing it through her hair again. Greer was sure the action was going to leave Lexie bald so she stood up and stopped the vigorous motion. Lexie wanted to glare at her but that would involve looking Greer in the eyes and she could not do that yet.

As Greer pulled the towel away she could see the bright red cuts on Lexie's face and once again reached out to trace above them with her fingers. Lexie ducked her head down and moved to a chair next to the window. Greer followed her and moved to the other side of the bed to sit on the edge, trying to give the other woman some room, but not too much. “Please tell me why you were apologizing to me.”

Twisting the towel in her hands Lexie looked out onto her olive groves behind the house. “Because I scare you.”

Tilting her head to the side Greer tried to understand what Lexie was talking about. “What do you mean? You didn't scare me.”

Lexie shook her head. “I saw the look in your eyes. It was the same look you had the night I killed the mage. It was a look of horror, I've seen that look before and I don't blame you. I'm a monster, just like the ones I hunt.”

In one swift move Greer was off the bed and dropping to her knees beside the small woman who had seemed to shrink even more with each word. “Lexie no. It was just, you were covered in blood and you were hurt. There was so much blood.”

“Because of me.”


“Greer, my job is to hunt and kill, I'm an executioner, it's what I do, it's what I am. And I never meant for you to see it.”

Greer gently pulled the towel away to hold both of Lexie's hands. “What happened that night did not horrify me Lexie, I mean watching someone getting beheaded was not pleasant, it was a shock. It scared me, yes, but mainly because you were hurt and I couldn't tell how badly. And I know you heal really quickly and all that, but it does not stop the pain of seeing you hurt. I'm not scared of you, I was scared for you. Just like tonight.” She reached up again cupping a hand under the marked jaw. “You're not a monster Lexie. You are beautiful and kind and good and you protect people. That is your job.” Greer stretched up to placed a gentle kiss on the edge of Lexie's mouth. “And I find that beautiful, just like you.” She whispered as she pulled back to look into Lexie's eyes.

The eyes she sought were closed tight but tears managed to escape anyway to roll down Lexie's cheeks. “Please don't.”


Finally opening her eyes Lexie stared into watery green that would not look away. “Because it's not safe.”

“I'm always safe with you Lexie.”

“But I can't always be with you and there are those who would use you to get to me.” Lexie closed her eyes once again seeing the dismembered body of her lover. Quiet sobs shook her body as she willed the images away.

Finally it was becoming clear to Greer that Lexie lived in a world of fear all her own. Never letting go of the small hand she reached back and pulled over a footstool. And as she sat she brought the trembling hand to her lips and kissed Lexie's palm. She rubbed small circles on the pale wrist as she held it in her lap. “You loved someone once didn't you? And she was hurt because of who you are?”

Taking a deep breath to regain some control, Lexie found she could only look at their clasped hands. “She wasn't just hurt, she was killed. Tortured and then ripped into unidentifiable pieces and I couldn't stop it.”

“I'm so sorry Lexie, that must have been horrible for you. You must have loved her a great deal.” Lexie could only nod her head as she continued to stare at their hands. “And did she know who you are?”

“I could never love someone completely without being honest with them.”

Greer allowed the smallest of smiles to cross her lips because Lexie had already been so openly honest with her. “Then Lexie she knew what she was getting into and chose you anyway because she loved you.” She waited for any response but Lexie just sat there. “How long were you two together?”

“Eighteen years.”

“And how long ago was this.”

“Inessa died in 1666.”

Greer's eyebrows shot up. Whatever she had been expecting was not the answer she got. Lexie was still holding a torch for someone who died nearly four hundred years ago. “And you're still in love with her?”

The heartbreak could be heard in the question and Lexie quickly looked up at Greer. She slowly shook her head. “No. I still love Inessa and I always will, but I accepted her loss a long time ago. Everyone dies eventually.”


“I'm not in love with Inessa anymore, but I do still live with the guilt of her death.”

Greer breathed a sigh of relief. “Lexie, you had no control over that. No matter how great you are you cannot control what happens in someone else's life. I'm as safe as I will ever be when I'm with you, but I could walk out into the street and get hit by a bus tomorrow or have a heart attack or live to be a hundred and ten. You have no control over that. Yes, things happen to us that we would never expect because of the people we know, that is called life Lexie. I mean I was just a low level lawyer, but because of what happened to my Papa I now run my own firm and I'm managing this amazing woman with a performing company and I get drunk with crazy Scottish women who don't know how to pack a suitcase.” Greer took a breath and let out a small laugh. “I want to be with you Lexie, to know you and care for you and I don't know how or why because I have never felt this way for someone before. I take full responsibility for my own life and anything that may come into it. So if you don't feel the same, I can understand, but don't let your fear or guilt of what may or may not happen stop you from living. Stop running.”

They both sat staring into each other's eyes for what seemed like hours. Greer could not tell what was going on in Lexie's mind until a hand shot out and pulled her close. Before she realized what was happening Lexie was kissing her and nothing else mattered. Greer reached up and held onto both sides of Lexie's face as she deepened the kiss. Finally some moments later she had to pull back as her need for oxygen became an issue. But she was only willing to move a few inches; her want of this woman was so great. She noticed Lexie's eyes were a light shade of grey and instead of being startled this time she smiled. “I love the way your eyes change color.”

“I'm glad.” Lexie whispered with a small smile before capturing soft warm lips again.

The next time they pulled apart Greer noticed blood on her hand. “You're bleeding again. I'm sorry, does it hurt?”

Lexie smiled and shook her head. “Not at all. Come on lets get you cleaned up. And I'll put some tape over this so it doesn't start again.” Holding Greer's clean hand she led them into the bathroom where Greer washed the blood away while Lexie bandaged her face. Once they were done they walked back into the bedroom. “Greer, I hate to do this, but I've really got to go to bed.” The day's events had finally caught up with Lexie.

While disappointed, Greer understood. “You must be exhausted.”

“Yes, and it helps with the healing.” Lexie admitted as she pointed to the large strip of white tape. She bit her lip and briefly looked at the floor. “Would you… I mean would you like…” Greer smiled at Lexie's sudden shyness. “Would you want to sleep in here tonight?” Greer's smile grew ten fold. “I mean sleep. I'm just too wiped out for anything else, but it would be nice having you near.”

Greer stepped closer and kissed Lexie's undamaged cheek. “Just let me go brush my teeth and change. I'll be right back.” She quickly exited the room and practically skipped down the hall. Ten minutes later Greer returned wearing cotton pajama pants and a tank top to find Lexie already in bed. Turning out the light she crawled into the bed and snuggled up to the smaller woman only to discover a naked body. “Lexie, you're not wearing anything.”

Lexie pulled Greer closer and rested her head in the crook of the taller woman's shoulder while holding her close. “I never wear anything to bed.” In the dark she smiled at the groan coming form Greer.

“You're killing me Lex.”

Stretching up she gave the squirming blonde a long deep kiss. “Never. Good night Greer.”

Sighing Greer held the silky taunt body close and drew small circles on the strong back. “Good night Lexie.” She kissed the top of the unruly hair and soon found herself being pulled under by sleep.




The next morning Lexie woke to the warm comfort of Greer wrapped around her. The blonde head was tucked under her chin and one cotton clad leg draped over her hips. At some point in the night they had reversed their positions and Lexie was content to just lie there holding the sleeping woman, listening to her breath. Sunlight softly filtered in through the curtains and cast just enough light so she could freely study every curve and angle of the beautiful face resting on her chest.

Running her fingers through the long golden honey colored locks Lexie wondered if she had done the right thing by giving in to her love for this woman. Lost in her own thoughts, she never realized Greer had awoken.

Sleepy eyes tried to blink into focus as Greer felt she had never been so comfortable in her life. Once she was fully awake her eyes widened at the sight a mere inch from her nose. There sat a perfectly rounded small breast. A smile crept across her lips as she realized what her soft pillow consisted of and where her cheek was resting and whom that pillow belonged to. Moving her head slightly Greer placed a kiss on the side of the inviting breast in her line of vision.

Pulled out of her worrying thoughts, Lexie looked down and smiled at the green eyes that were smiling back at her. “Morning.”

“Morning.” Greer said as the stretched up to capture the lips she had dreamt of all night long. When she felt no resistance she deepened the kiss and shifted to pin the smaller woman to the bed.

Lexie allowed herself to enjoy the sensations that were coursing through her body at having the weight of Greer on top of her, but she finally pulled back before things got too out of hand. “Greer, we have to get up.”

“Why? This is so much better.” Greer mumbled as she began kissing down Lexie's neck.

“Because Teresa is downstairs cooking us breakfast and I have to go to work.” Lexie was finding it hard to concentrate as Greer began working her way down her chest. In a quick movement she rolled them over and held Greer to the bed. “I would love more than anything to stay in bed with you, but I have to go to work.” Seeing the frustrated look on Greer's face she leaned in and lightly kissed the pouting lips. “I'll be home early tonight I promise.” With that she slid out of the bed and walked into the bathroom.

Greer watched the naked form move across the room and groaned loudly pulling the covers over her head. She was going to need a cold shower.

Twenty minutes later Greer joined Lexie at the kitchen table looking wide-awake and ready to go. Closing her eyes she inhaled deeply. “Oh, what is that wonderful smell?”

Grabbing another mug, Lexie poured a cup of coffee and handed it to Greer. “Coffee, fresh out of the oven blueberry muffins, grilled tomatoes, fried potatoes, and grilled tempeh.” She held up the plate of soy product and Greer quickly turned up her lip in disgust.

“That's not what I smell.”

Loading her plate Lexie then moved back to her seat to watch Greer carefully look under each cover. A squeal emanated from the tall woman and Lexie could not help laughing.

“Bacon!” Greer turned and asked hopefully. “Is this for me?”

Nodding, Lexie watched as Greer filled a plate with the crispy strips and some tomatoes, potatoes and a muffin. She noticed the wide birth the woman gave the tempeh. “I asked Teresa if she could make some for you.”

“That was very thoughtful of you. Will it bother you if I eat this?” Concerned Greer waited before digging in.

“Not at all, just because I don't eat meat right now doesn't mean I never have or that I won't again someday.”

After taking a sip of coffee Greer gratefully ate half a strip of bacon before focusing her attention on the woman sitting next to her. The bandage was gone and two red scratch marks were all that remained on the damaged jaw. She sat for a moment just watching Lexie eat and remembering how vulnerable the small woman had been the night before. She knew that a life with Lexie would be a wild ride, but it was one rollercoaster she never wanted to get off of.

“What? Do I have food on my face or something?” Lexie wiped at her chin with a napkin.

Greer shook her head and went back to her breakfast. “So what are we doing today?”

“I have to run rehearsal all day, but you can do whatever you like.”

“Could I go with you? I like watching you rehearse.”

Lexie looked up with surprise. “Really? Rehearsals can be pretty boring.”

Reaching over to place a delicate hand over the smaller calloused one, Greer smiled. “If there is one thing I have discovered sweetheart, it's that nothing you do is boring.”

Hearing the endearment seemed to melt Lexie's insides and all she could manage was a goofy grin for the next few moments.

Once they finished breakfast Lexie found her spare helmet and insisted Greer wear her leather motorcycle jacket. Seeing the tight fit she made a mental note to call Sarina and have her send over one in Greer's size. The ride was much slower this time and Lexie relished the feel of Greer's arms wrapped tightly around her.

The studio was swarming with activity as the cast warmed up and the crew readied the equipment. Lexie waved Mac over to take care of finding a good place for Greer to make camp for the day while she headed to the locker room to change. Coming back out she found a small group standing around talking with Mac and Greer so she went over to break it up and get things started.

Upon Lexie's order to get back to work Greer turned to leave then reached back and gave the firm spandex clad backside a squeeze and walked off to her assigned seat. Lexie jumped and her eyes grew to the size of saucers at the invasive touch. The group, which consisted of everyone who had worked for Lexie for the last few years, broke out laughing. Both surprised and delighted that someone had actually managed to surprise their boss. Turning to the woman who had just grabbed her rear Lexie raised an eyebrow wondering if Greer had lost her mind. Greer just smiled sweetly back at her letting her know that she could give as good as she got. The look on Becks face alone told Greer she had sufficiently gotten Lexie back for the ‘over the shoulder' stunt.

Rehearsals proceeded with only minimal harassment of the boss, and by the time lunch rolled around the only comments floating around were about how sore and tired everyone was.

When lunch was called everyone headed out on an hour long break. Greer walked over to where Lexie was talking with Becks, but as she reached the women Becks turned to her.

“Want to grab some lunch?” The dancer asked with a smile.

Greer looked from Becks to Lexie and back again. “Um, I thought I would join Lexie.”

Taking Greer by the arm Becks hinted at their actual plan. “I thought we could do a little shopping as well.” Greer looked at Lexie who raised an eyebrow in the direction of Mac, who was busy working on a piece of equipment just a few feet away.

Remembering the previous request, Greer reluctantly smiled and accepted the invitation. She had been looking forward to spending a little time with Lexie, but oh well; she would simply have to make up for it later.

“You have the company credit card?” Lexie asked Greer, who nodded in affirmation. “Then you guys have a good time and go a little crazy.” She gave Becks a pointed look letting her know she fully expected lots of fun and outrageous things for the party. “I'll meet you back at the house Greer. You don't mind dropping her off do you Becks?”

“That's fine, just let me throw on some street clothes and we'll be on our way, be back in two minutes.” Becks ran off to the locker room to change.

Lexie escorted Greer to the back entrance where the vans were parked. “Thanks for doing this.” She said as soon as they were out of Mac's hearing range. “I really appreciate it.” Having snagged Greer's jacket on the walk outside, Lexie held it out for the blonde to step into.

“So what are you going to do for lunch, maybe you could join us?” Greer slipped into her jacket and quickly turned in the arms that held it out so that they were intimately close. A shiver ran up her spine as Lexie ran a hand down her arm before stepping back just enough to allow some space between them.

“I'll just grab something from the kitchen. I still have some work to do before the kids get back.” She smiled up at the beautiful face that was practically leering at her. “Mac is going to be in the show and we need to time out our sword work.”

Lowering her voice to a sexy rumble Greer stepped closer so they were touching again. “Don't wear yourself out. I have plans for you later.”

Hearing the door open, Lexie stepped back and raised an eyebrow at her soon to be lover. “Becks, remember this is for Mac, there is no limit and nothing is too embarrassing.” She gave the lithe dancer a wicked grin, they had known each other for years and knew just what would make Mac happy and what would make her blush. She headed back inside as the two women got in the van and drove away. Earlier she had told Becks she did not expect to see them before dinner and while a full day was in front of her, she still had a trick or two up her sleeve. Greer was not the only one looking forward to tonight.



In a moment of insanity Mac had agreed to do a fight sequence in the show with Lexie. As if she did not have enough to do, she now had to be on stage for four and a half minutes each night that Lexie was in the show. Watching Lexie come at her with swords wielding in an intricate pattern that was more for show than actually adding power to her attack, she remembered the argument Lexie had given her about being in the show. ‘You're the only one who can keep up with me in a fight and make it look good.' True she thought as the two swords came at her in a crossing sweep. Leaning back and spinning out of the way Mac arched her sword around to catch Lexie in the back, but the twin short swords were already there in anticipation of the move. They continued sparring for a few more minutes before Lexie called a halt to their session.

“Nice moves Mac, your deflections are really getting good.” Lexie stood twirling her swords around her as she spoke as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. “We just need to work on your attacks a bit, you really need to beat me down in the beginning. Then the tables will slowly turn and you will be vanquished.”

There were no choreographed moves for the fight; Lexie wanted it to be spontaneous and fresh each night. Mac was good at reading the smaller woman's moves after fifteen years of sparring together. In all honesty she was the only member of the company who could hold her own with ‘Lexie the fighting machine' and make it look good.

“Vanquish? You mean chase off. There is no vanquishing here.” Mac trilled in a nervous voice. A devilish smirk was the only reply she received. “Lex, no vanquishing, just chasing. Remember I don't heal the way you do.” To prove her point she tried to poke Lexie in the arm with her sword tip only to watch as her sword was catapulted across the studio and embedded high in the opposite wall. She looked down at her small tormentor after following the path of her sword. Lexie was still propelling her swords around her body with a smug smile firmly in place.

Exasperated, Mac growled at Lexie, now she would have to get out the lift to retrieve her sword. Just over Lexie's shoulder a tall figure in designer jeans and a silk blouse caught Mac's eye. Standing just inside the front door and giving her daughter a smug smirk was Athena. Like mother, like daughter. Mac motioned her head toward the door while catching Lexie's eye. All the years she had known Lexie she had never heard a single word about her parents, now seeing them twice in such a short time could not mean anything good.

Most of the cast had wandered back in and settled themselves around the studio to watch the dueling swordswomen, each one very glad they were not the one chosen to go against Lexie. Now that the fighting was over all attention was focused on the striking woman making her way over to their boss.

“Take them through the replacement number for our fight.” Lexie told Mac as she handed off her swords. “I'll be right back.” Then she strode off to meet her Mom halfway.

Mac watched as Athena greeted her daughter by brushing the smaller woman's unruly hair out of her eyes. A few words were exchanged before the two turned for the door as Athena draped an arm over Lexie's shoulder and they left the building. Placing the swords in their case Mac had Kara lead everyone in warm-ups while she got the motorized lift out of the back room.

Outside Lexie walked her Mom around the building until they were assured of a private place to talk. Looking into the light grey eyes that were so much like her own, Lexie knew she was not going to like what she was about to hear.

They walked over to a picnic table that was nicely shaded by a large old tree; Athena climbed up and took a seat on the tabletop. Crossing one leg over the other she gave her daughter a sobering look. Lexie simply waited for the news that was so important it warranted a visit from Athena.

“The Angels are back, it looks like they are going to start recruiting again.” And by recruiting Athena meant forcibly abducting people against their will.

Recruiting was a polite term the Gods used for what the Angels really did. Every hundred years or so they would come down from their realm in the stratosphere to round up men and women to be used as breeding stock. The humans were kept like pampered prisoners and when they were no longer useful they were executed. Of course if the Angels could get their hands on a God or two, all the better. Their powers were limited, but cunning was their greatest weapon. Each time the Angels appeared the Gods fought them, sending the winged scourge back where they belonged with as few causalities as possible. Lexie always joined in the fight as her duty to protect the humans. Thinking back, she realized it had only been about twenty-five years since their last hunting trip. So why were they back so soon?

“Gabriel? He's returned? I've kicked his ass before, I'll be happy to do it again.” Lexie said as she thought back to the last quick defeat in which only two human lives were lost.

Shaking her head, Athena remained solemn. “It's Serephim, and word is she's come for you. Michael is leading a contingent across Spain , it's a distraction, and so far we have been successful in stopping any recruiting. They will be in France soon. We're going to try stopping them just outside Marseille. I want you with us Lexie.”

For the last twelve hundred years Lexie had personally defeated Serephim in her efforts, now the Angel was out for revenge and Michael was creating the diversion for her little surprise attack. “I can handle Serephim.”

“Do you really want to lure her here?” Athena asked glancing at the building behind her. “We could use your help with the others and when Serephim comes you won't be alone.”

Green eyes flashed in Lexie's mind. It was unfair, but once again her wants would have to take a back seat to her job. “Fine, when do we leave?”

“Tonight. Take care of anything you need to, your Mother and I will come by for you later.”

Lexie scuffed her toe in the dirt. “Don't bother, just give me a meeting place, I'll be there.”

Athena sat speechless. Her daughter, who had resisted and fought against her powers since she was born, seemed to be finally accepting them or at least some of them. She wondered what had made the woman change her mind. At the time she had not seemed that affected by the energy burst she used in defeating the mage. Nor did she seem all that affected by Gaia's visit. Athena was beginning to think that perhaps a certain blonde might have something to do with Lexie's change of heart.

What Athena did not know was that the power Lexie had tapped into that day refused to be denied any longer. It coursed through Lexie's blood with such force that the woman now had to face and deal with whom she truly was. And if accepting the power that had always been apart of her helped to protect Greer in a way she could not with Inessa, then Lexie not only accepted it, but also welcomed it.

“Don't look so shocked Mom. I've got things to do here; your timing is pretty lousy. I've got a show to get ready and tomorrow is Mac's birthday. I'm throwing a big party. You and Mother should stop by, it'll be at the house.”

Sitting forward Athena reached out to run her fingertips down Lexie's set jaw. “Lex, Serephim wants you dead. We're not going to let that happen, but you might miss the party.”

Steel grey eyes bore into the lighter grey ones of the older woman. “Let her try. I will pluck her like a chicken. Serephim has been a pain in my ass for far too long, if she wants to bring this to an end, no problem, but she better know I will be the one walking away.”

It was not a boast, it was the truth and Athena knew it. Lexie had turned a corner and finally found something to help make her whole. Athena knew just how she felt; it was the same for her when she had met Artemis. She only hoped Serephim did not make the mistake of pushing the issue.

Over a century and a half ago the Angel had wanted Lexie for herself, but Lexie rejected her and fought to exile the Angels to the alternate plane in the stratosphere. Since then it had become a game to Serephim to annoy Lexie as much as possible. However their last few encounters had escalated in violence until Lexie humiliated the Angel so badly the creature vowed revenge.

Like so many creatures of ancient times the Angels did not fit into the new world and were forced into hiding. Unlike the other creatures that came together to create their own world and forge a new existence, the Angels preferred isolation, an isolation that led to a decline in their numbers and helped to perpetuate their myth. It was by accident that they discovered breeding with humans could increase their numbers. Angel DNA would often dominate the human DNA and most children born were Angels, but not immortal. Only the Ancients were immortal. And Serephim was an Ancient. Death for her was a lot like it would be for Lexie, temporary. A long sleep of possibly hundreds of years and then life would be regenerated.

As Lexie went back inside to check on rehearsals she thought back on all the years she had fought the Angels, but Serephim especially. How many times had they fought the same battle? How many creatures had she fought repeatedly over time? She couldn't help wondering what it would take to break the cycle. Unfortunately one thing she had learned in all the years of her life was that repetition was inevitable.

The studio buzzed with activity, the stage area was being set up for the second act while the dancers made sure their equipment and props were in place. Watching her crew prepping, laughing, joking and genuinely enjoying what they were doing, Lexie felt a warm surge of relief. This was why she did what she did and would continue to fight, so people could simply live their lives and enjoy them without falling prey to things they could not imagine.

She caught Mac's attention with a nod that brought the tall Scot to her side. “I've got to go Mac, I'll be back as soon as I can, but this might take a couple of days. Just keep running the show and get Becks to help Jessica with the hoops, she's still unsteady.”

Before Lexie could take off Mac gave her a curious look. “Hey Lex, do you ever see your folks when there isn't some kind of major catastrophe happening?”

“Mac,” Lexie grinned, “my family is a major catastrophe.” Turning on her heel she headed for the back door and her bike. Pulling out her phone she hit Greer's speed dial number.

Across town Greer was slowly perusing the aisles of a spirits shop when her phone rang. Recognizing the number immediately, a big smile crept across her face. “Hi” she purred.

Taken back by the sexy tone, Lexie could not help the shiver that ran down her spine. “Hi” she replied almost shyly. “Where are you right now?”

“I'm looking for a bottle of Scotch.” Lexie could hear Greer ask someone the name of the store. “We're at a place called Ferrillie's.”

“I'll be there in ten minutes.” Lexie told the blonde expecting her to wait. “Oh and she likes Glendronach.” Lexie grinned as she hung up and slammed her helmet on her head. In one swift movement she was on the bike and speeding down the road. She arrived at the shop just as two young men were loading the van with numerous boxes of wine and spirits.

Inside Greer and Becks were talking to a portly man with graying hair and wearing a cravat. His dark blue eyes lit up as he zeroed in on Lexie the instant she crossed the threshold.

“Signorina Artem!” The man exclaimed as he threw both hands in the air and made his way around the counter. Excitedly he rambled on in Italian, welcoming the woman to his shop once again.

“Signor Ferrillie, it's good to see you again.” Lexie greeted him in Italian while shaking his hand then switching to English as she nodded to the two blondes behind him. “Becks, Greer.”

Blue eyes sparkled as he looked between the women and switched back to English once again. “You are all together? Of course. Signorina, I have a red that I think of you when I get it, I bring you some and you try.” Without waiting for a reply Signor Ferrillie rushed to the back of the store leaving the three amused women blinking after him.

“So what have you two been up to?” Lexie asked as she tried to avoid Greer's curious looks.

“We picked up a few decorations, I'm still looking for just the right thing though. We have enough alcohol to fill a bar, and I'm going to pick up the gelato last.” Becks answered cheerfully.

At that moment Signor Ferrillie entered carrying a tray with three small glasses. “A taste for each of you.” He held out the tray as each woman picked a glass and took a sip. Looking from face to face he anxiously awaited their opinions. Lexie smiled and nodded her head at the round man. “I knew you would like it the moment I find it.” He declared triumphantly. If there were two things Signor Ferrillie knew, they were wine and his regular customers.

“As always you are correct Signor Ferrillie. I'll take four cases if you have it.” Lexie turned to her dance captain. “Becks, would you mind settling up with Signor Ferrillie, I need to borrow Greer for just a moment. “Signor, thank you, it's wonderful as always to see you.”

Signor Ferrillie waved to his two younger helpers and disappeared into the back. While Greer dug in her wallet to hand Becks the credit card, Lexie waited patiently. Once the exchange had been made Lexie placed a gentle hand on the small of tall blonde's back and led her outside. They walked away from the shop to slip down a quiet alley that ran between it and the used bookstore. Stepping just inside the narrow walkway so they were off the sidewalk, Lexie stopped.

The loss of warmth on her back from Lexie's hand caused Greer to stop and turn. She looked down into apologetic blue eyes. “What's going on Lexie, is everything okay?”

Reaching out Lexie took both of the taller woman's hands into her own and let out a sigh. “I am really sorry Greer, but I have to leave in a little while, something's come up and I have to take care of it.” She looked into green eyes that were disappointed and concerned. “I promise you I will do everything in my power to be back in time for the party.”

Greer stepped closer and leaned in touching her forehead to Lexie's. She had been eagerly looking forward to tonight, but Greer was also very aware of how sensitive Lexie was about her ‘other' job. And the one thing she had vowed to never do after the incident at the studio in Amsterdam was to make Lexie feel guilty or bad about her obligations. This relationship was going to be difficult enough with Lexie always on the road, she did not want to add to the feelings of inadequacy she knew the smaller woman had. “You do what you have to, I understand. Just be careful and try not to get hurt. I have plans for you when you get back.” Greer pressed forward and gave Lexie a kiss that promised of things to come.

Emotions coursed through Lexie unlike anything she had ever experienced. The warmth of Greer's body felt like a fire burning into Lexie. The sweet fresh smell that was Greer made her dizzy with its intoxicating aroma. And the soft skin her fingers were making small circles on was quickly becoming an addiction. Taking a few moments to indulge her senses, Lexie finally walked Greer back to the van where Becks sat patiently waiting.

“Becks, keep her out of trouble for me.” Lexie winked at her dancer then gave Greer a quick kiss good-bye. The large grin that spread across Beck's face as she watched the two told Lexie that Greer would be grilled relentlessly about the status of their relationship. Somehow she knew Greer could handle it. “I'll see you tomorrow night.”

Greer swung up into the passenger seat. “Just stay out of trouble yourself.” She watched as Lexie straddled her bike and then took off. “Please be safe” she whispered to herself.

Back at the house Lexie placed a dozen roses beside Greer's bed then took a shower and donned her serious ass kicking uniform. As she dressed tempting aromas wafted up from the kitchen coaxing a loud rumble from Lexie's stomach. Speeding up her actions, she left her sword and coat upstairs and eagerly ran downstairs for a bite to eat. As she entered the warm room she let Teresa know she would not be in tonight, but that Greer and Becks would be back in a couple of hours to get the house ready.

Teresa moved about humming a happy tune as she placed a large bowl of handmade artichoke ravioli with creamy mushroom sauce in front of Lexie. Next came fresh garlic bread and a small plate of caprese followed by a cold glass of tea. A moan escaped Lexie's throat before she dug in. With the first bite her eyes rolled back in her head and a small shiver went through her entire being. Teresa was defiantly one of the best cooks in all of Italy . The older woman watched with pride as Lexie enjoyed her food, nodding her approval she went back to her preparations for the party.



Dusk was falling over the French countryside casting the land in shadows. In the town of Alban people were busy rushing to complete the last of their errands for the day. Old men sat in straight back wooden chairs talking in front of shops along the main street. They keenly watched the younger people rushing by, perhaps remembering when that too was their job to pick up the last minute items before dinner. Lexie watched the elderly men from an outdoor bistro and wondered what the sense of peace that shone on their faces must be like.

Lexie's own sense of peace was disturbed a few moments later when her parents joined her. Athena stopped to order them coffees before joining her wife at the small table outside. Lexie was not in the mood for chatting, but as the two women sat there studying her she became uneasy.

“What!?” Lexie snapped, not appreciating the close scrutiny.

Athena raised an eyebrow at her daughter's rude behavior. “So are you going to tell us what's going on?”

“We're here to stop the Angels.” Lexie said as if explaining to a small child.

Something close to a grunt rumbled in Artemis' throat as she rolled her eyes. “Don't be a smart ass Lexie.” Rolling her head to the side Artemis narrowed her eyes at Athena. “Your daughter is being stubborn, what a surprise.”

A young waiter appeared by their side at that moment to deliver their coffees. Athena quickly wrapped her hands around the steaming cup and lifted it to inhale deeply of the aroma. “Why is it she's your daughter when she's being all heroic and brave and mine when she's being a stubborn ass?” Her wife only smirked in her direction and raised an eyebrow as they returned their attention to Lexie.

The penetrating gaze was too much for Lexie and she squirmed in her seat for a moment before giving them both a huff and turning to stare off in the opposite direction. It was not that she was disinclined to tell her parents about her life, but for now she wanted to keep things to herself. She was still trying to figure out exactly what she and Greer were to each other. Lexie had lived a fairly solitary life for someone who was always surrounded by people, Mac being her chosen confidant for the last fifteen years. But for the last couple of months she had seen more of her family then in the last decade.

As the last of the light was fading from the sky Lexie jumped to her feet. She dropped a few bills on the table and turned to her mothers who were still sipping their coffee. “Lets get this over with, I've got a party to host.” With that she turned and marched out of town.

Artemis and Athena watched after their daughter with amused looks as Lexie turned the last corner onto the road that led out into the countryside. Athena reached over to entwine her fingers with her wife's, giving the woman a look of pure love. “Do you think she's found it this time?”

Artemis brought their joined hands up to her lips and gently kissed the long fingers laced with her own. “I don't think she knows. You know Lexie, she insists on making everything so much harder on herself.” She kissed the fingers again and gave the taller woman a wink. “Not unlike a certain daughter of Zeus I know.”

“Oh yes and the daughter of Gaia has never done anything the hard way.” Athena teased lovingly with her wife before they disappeared from the café only to reappear alongside Lexie on a road outside of town.

The three walked in silence for a mile or two before Lexie picked up the sound of wings. She motioned for her parents to stop and concentrated, zeroing in on the barely audible movement of the air. Suddenly she was in motion, running out into the darkness. A few moments later a loud thud could be heard followed by a string of colorful expletives.

Artemis and Athena caught up with Lexie and stopped short at the sight of their diminutive daughter standing on the back of an Angel twice her size. She had both his wings stretched out and was about to make a twist tie out of them. One foot planted firmly on his spine, the other pressing his face into the ground.

“Right, right, you're pissed, you're angry, you're going to tear me to shreds, blah blah blah. I get it. And you're doing a wonderful job by the way. Now, one more time, where is Serephim?” Lexie punctuated her question with a sharp tug on the enormous wings.

As a few feathers fluttered to the ground the Angel screamed at the pain shooting through his shoulders and down his spine. Lexie eased up a bit to allow him to catch his breath. “Alright, alright. She's waiting in the hills north of here for a sighting report.” He muttered before dropping his head in shame.

“What kind of sighting?” When Lexie did not get an immediate response she applied a little more pressure.

“You!” He screamed, dropping his face back into the dirt as the pressure eased.

“Now see that wasn't so hard.” Lexie smiled down at him. She could feel her parents behind her and knew they were silently laughing. “I'm going to leave you in good company. What did you say your name was? Dominic? Meet Artemis and Athena, they're going to look after you while I'm gone. Now don't go pissing them off, they can be a little temperamental. Ladies.” Lexie pulled the large Angel to his feet and handed him over to the waiting Goddesses. He glared down at her as she pointed toward the hills and gave him a questioning look. Getting no response she smiled. “I'll see you later.” With a quick smile for her moms, she turned toward the hills and took off running so fast it was as if she had vanished.

The Angel visibly paled as Artemis took hold of his right wing and arm while Athena grabbed his left. Light grey eyes clouded as Athena bore a steely glare into him.



The half moon could barely be seen through the trees as Lexie made her way to where she had sensed the Angel to be. It did not take long before she found her target.

On a tumble of fallen trees sat a tall slender blonde with short-cropped hair and black wings. The dark wings were tucked neatly behind her but the dim moonlight could still be seen shinning on their smooth feathers. Lexie soundlessly stepped out of the trees and observed the Angel who had not heard her approach.

“I hear you're looking for me.”

Serephim startled at the sound of the familiar voice so near. Spreading her wings she gave Lexie a hiss as she stood. “You could say that.” Gracefully leaping to the ground, Serephim began to slowly circle Lexie with a wild and demented glean in her dark eyes. “How accommodating of you to come to me.”

Casually standing with her posture relaxed, Lexie appeared almost disinterested in the Angel. She stared off into the trees, but was always watching Serephim from her peripheral vision. Years of conflict had taught her not to trust this woman and she was ready for anything the Angel would attempt. “A little birdie told me you were here to kill me. So I thought I'd come see for myself what the ranting of this coo-coo bird was all about.”

“Oh that was not ranting. You will die tonight Lexie. Your time has finally come. But you must tell me the name of this little bird so that it may be properly rewarded.”

“Well, at the moment he is the play thing of Artemis and Athena so I'd say he's getting his just reward.” Lexie smiled as Serephim came to a stop in front of her. Anger clouded the Angels features.

“If they hurt him, you will pay for this Lexie.” Serephim threatened.

Lexie was trying to control her anger, but her old nemesis was beginning to get on her last nerve. “You already plan on killing me, once you do that there's not much else you can do to me.”

In the blink of an eye Serephim closed the distance between them, stopping just short of arms length from Lexie. “I will destroy those two old biddies and you can all rot in the same grave together.”

Lexie glared daggers into the dark eyes that glared back, burning with furry.

“And I shall descend an army of Angels on your precious humans like a plague.” Taking a step closer, some of the anger seemed to fade away as Serephim reached out to trace the contour of Lexie's face. “However, this does not have to be. You have the power to change all of this Lexie. Come with me right now and no one need be harmed.”

Lexie did not move except to narrow her eyes at the woman towering above her. As the Angel stepped even closer, bringing their bodies into contact, Lexie's breathing slowed. Had Serephim been aware of anything other than her own delusions she would have known this as a warning sign.

“We belong together Lex, you know we do. It's time to come home baby.” Serephim leaned down to kiss Lexie, lost in her own fantasy, but the smaller woman jumped back.

“That's it! Enough! Do you even hear yourself! You're insane you know that!” Lexie yelled, no longer able to contain her anger. She had been patient, but the ridiculous notion of the two of them as a couple finally pushed her to the edge. “I am not in love with you, I have never been in love with you. And if you are willing to be honest with yourself, you would admit you don't love me either.” Lexie watched as the anger flashed once again in Serephim's eyes.

Like watching the lid blow off a boiling pot, Lexie took a step back as the Angel's anger came to a head. Suddenly black wings lashed out catching Lexie in the side and throwing her across the grassy clearing. The action had caught Lexie by surprise, but as she landed she managed to roll to her feet and withdrew her sword.

“I don't want to kill you Serephim, but if you want to end this, I will. One of us will walk out of here tonight and I promise it will not be you.”

“That's right,” the Angel spat as she moved a little closer, “I should fear the great and mighty Lexie! I should do whatever you say and run back to the stratosphere like an obedient servant of the Gods.” Serephim took a running leapt at Lexie. “I am not your servant!!”

Rolling out of the way, Lexie knew she would have to fight to the death if she could not get Serephim to control herself. “No one ever said you were. It's not my fault you chose to go into exile.”

“Oh yes, because we blend in so well in the new world.”

“That's not my fault either!” Lexie lowered her sword to a less defensive position. The Angels had always been mischievous creatures, it was what drew Lexie as a child to Serephim in the first place, but with their self-imposed exile anger and resentment had become a part of their character and that anger made them dangerous. Lexie took a moment to truly look at her old nemesis and even older friend. “I don't want to do this anymore Sere. What happened to us? We use to be friends.”

Unwilling to let go of her anger Serephim tried not to hear the girl she once knew in Lexie's voice. “You and I were never friends.”

“Yes we were. When we were young Sere, we were as close as two friends could get. You and I use to get into all kinds of trouble together. Don't you remember?” Lexie could see she was beginning to get through as the Angels face clouded remembering the good times they had. “I think we were the reason Zeus went grey. And remember the time we hid Poseidon's trident on top of Olympus ?” A momentary spark lit Serephim's eyes as she remembered the chaos they caused. “And then the whole world changed and we all had to go into hiding. The only difference was that my people found a way to become a part of the new world and your people chose to remove yourself from it.” Lexie watched as the fight vanished from Serephim's eyes, leaving her looking tired and hurt. “You walked away Sere, and I miss my friend.”

“I miss you too Lex.” Serephim said before walking back over to the pile of fallen trees and taking a seat. She looked up and watched as Lexie returned her sword to its place beneath her coat. The smaller woman walked over to sit next to her and for a moment things felt right. “You have no idea what it's been like.”

“So tell me.”

Looking down into a face that showed understanding and caring, the last of Serephim's anger faded. Sitting there with her old friend felt so natural and familiar that the Angel found herself talking about things she had never told anyone. And soon the two were sharing stories as if all the years and battles had never happened. They talked into the night and Lexie soon realized that Serephim's greatest problem was that she was lonely. All the Angels were, but they had put themselves into that position. Everyone needed to be loved and the Angel was no different.

In trying to help Serephim with her problem, Lexie thought she could see a way to solve the issue of Angels harvesting humans as merely breeders. She suggested that they become a part of the unknown world again. They would have to learn to be trusted all over again, but the Angels could find a sympathetic and understanding ally in her people. Also, simply gettting to know some of the humans and allowing them to make the choice to be with the Angels would help to ease tensions between the two worlds. The new world may be a different place, but there was still room for everyone in it. And when people were given a chance, quite often they proved to be remarkably understanding. Serephim had even told her of humans who had fallen in love with Angels that had not been their captors, so the capacity to love was there.

The sun would soon be coming up and the Angel needed to leave before the sky grew too light. Lexie promised to sit down with the Angels and help them work out a better way of life and Serephim promised to give people a chance, even though she really did not believe it would help.

As they stood to leave Serephim suddenly looked worried. “Oh shit, Dominic! Lexie, you don't think they've hurt him do you?”

“Not unless he gives them reason to.” Lexie raised an eyebrow at the nervous look on her friends face. “Why are you so worried about him?”

Serephim half smiled, half cringed. “He's my son.”

“A son huh?” Lexie smiled. “Don't worry, he's a big boy, he can take care of himself. Congratulations.” She hugged the Angel. “I'll send him up to you and then you guys better get out of here, it'll be light soon and the last thing we need is for some French farmer to see Angels in the sky.” A funny look crossed Lexie's face. “Exactly how did you guys become religious symbols anyway?”

A groan escaped Serephim's throat as she threw her head back in exasperation. “Ugh, Ramiel saves one kid from falling off a bridge and all of a sudden we're sent from God. I told you no good deed goes unpunished.”

Lexie gave a chuckle as she stepped back. “Tell me about it. I'll send Dominic up right away.” She turned to leave then turned back. “And Sere, I promise you if I can find it, so can you.” Giving her old friend a reassuring smile, Lexie vanished out of sight.

Serephim's eyebrow rose as she stared at the spot where Lexie had been. “I guess we've all grown up Lex.”



During a long and pleasant family breakfast Lexie discussed her ideas with her parents, together they would all work to come up with a way of bringing some peace to the Angels. By the time she left her moms in France , for the first time in centuries, she felt positive about Serephim no longer stalking her, at least for a while, until her psychopathic tendencies reared up again. Their friendship had a long way to go before it completely healed and she could trust the Angel, but as long as Sere was willing to work at it, so was Lexie. Perhaps she would also look into some anti-psychotic drugs for Sere, they couldn't hurt.

Instead of going straight back home Lexie took advantage of the extra time on her hands. Her first stop, Milan , where Lexie's favorite motorcycle shop was located. She wanted to pick up a couple of helmets with built in communicators. In an unusually cheerful mood, Lexie waited while her purchases were being tested. She envisioned a long ride through the countryside with Greer and a picnic basket on the back of her bike. Closing her eyes she could almost feel the warm body pressed against her back as the young woman held on.

The next stop on her little shopping spree was a bit closer to home. As she stepped into the leather shop carrying her bundles Sarina greeted her with a smile.

“Lexie, I wasn't expecting to see you until later.” Sarina eyed the packages. “Doing a bit of last minute shopping?”

Setting her two packages on the counter Lexie returned the warm smile. “Just picking up a few things I need. And I am in need of a motorcycle jacket, some gloves and maybe a pair of pants.” Taking a good look at Sarina she noticed just how similar the Italian was to Greer. “She's about your size, same height, maybe a little narrower in the hips and not as full in the…um…” Turning a light shade of pink Lexie cleared her throat as she indicated the full breasts in front of her. Sarina chuckled at the smaller woman's awkwardness and raised an eyebrow. “Yes, well, I'm thinking a rich caramel color.” Lexie concluded as she turned and began looking through the first rack closest to her.

“Lucky lady.” Sarina declared as she walked to the rack that held the jackets Lexie wanted.

Half an hour later Lexie's arms were loaded with so many packages she could barely see over the small mountain. With less than an hour before her entire cast and crew were going to arrive at her house Lexie had one last stop to make. Carefully balancing her load she walked around the block and checking to make sure she was alone, disappeared.



Preparations for the party were well underway by the time Lexie arrived back home. She popped straight into her bedroom and could hear the voices of several people in the house and garden. She concentrated for a moment to easily pick out Greer's light laughter. The gorgeous blonde was on the back patio setting out the food with Kara as Teresa gave the orders of where everything was to be placed. The busy happy voices let Lexie know she was truly home. Heading for the shower, she picked up the sound of vans arriving with the rest of her troupe and quickly put a little speed behind her movements.

The two couples that comprised the core of Lexie's company had taken on most of the jobs of getting the party together. Devon was in charge of music and while he and Zolie were setting up the sound system, Becks was finishing with her decorations. Dangling from the tree branches and pergola were streamers and string lights that looked like little tools hung over the patio along with embarrassing pictures of Mac from the last six years and a few naked baby pictures that Becks had managed to get from Mac's mother.

As Lexie dressed she could hear the party really getting started. The volume of the music picked up, as did the level of laughter and noise when more people began arriving. Everything for the party had been set up outside. Several long tables straining with the weight of so much food ran the length of the patio. A bar had been placed in one corner and half the patio looked like an outdoor café, leaving the rear section open for dancing. A large poster size picture of Mac giving everyone a scowl hung in a place of honor next to a table piled with gifts.

The attempt at making it a surprise party had failed miserably as it had each year previously. So Mac and her date were talking to Greer when Lexie came downstairs. Hidden in the shadows of the sitting room, Lexie was able to pause a moment to take in the beauty of the woman who had so quickly captured her heart. Dressed in a simple floral dress with a lightweight green sweater to stave off any chill, Greer was the most beautiful thing Lexie had ever seen. Her honey colored hair hung about her shoulders and swayed gently each time she moved her head. Greer's laugh would light up her green eyes making them sparkle, and it was that smile that melted Lexie's heart.

Lost in the sight of the blonde, Lexie was brought out of her musings by the music suddenly changing to a song she could not resist. A huge grin spread across her face as she quickly moved through the open doors. Coming up behind Greer she grabbed the woman's hand and before Greer knew what was happening she was being dragged out to the dance floor and gracefully pulled into Lexie's strong arms.

A small yelp escaped Greer's lips at the sudden movement, but the sight of the smaller woman quickly brought a smile to her entire face. Lexie's hair was slightly damp and sticking out in all directions as usual. A fresh clean scent followed her and she looked almost elegant in her pressed blue tailored shirt, black trousers and freshly polished Florsheims. The arms circling Greer's waist was the most comfortable feeling in the world and she relaxed into them as she wrapped her arms around the slender neck. She barely registered the music playing because the only thing she could hear was Lexie as the smaller woman sang along with Natalie Cole, each line directed at Greer while Lexie proclaimed ‘this will be an everlasting love'. Hearing those words from Lexie melted Greer's heart. Everyone and everything disappeared, as she held tight and delighted in having Lexie's undivided attention.

Mac watched her best friend as she swayed with the blonde moving her around the dance floor in a syncopated motion as if they had been dancing together for years. The two simply looked like they belonged together. Wrapping an arm around the dark headed woman at her side, Mac couldn't think of a better birthday gift than to finally see Lexie happy with someone.

Others joined the couple on the dance floor, but everyone was respectful enough to give them their space. As the music ended and a more up beat song began Lexie still stood swaying with Greer in her arms, the sensation too enjoyable to let go of. Greer lowered her head to give Lexie a light kiss, but as soon as their lips touched, that electric spark shot through them and the kiss quickly became a long deep passionate one.

Half of the partygoers had stopped to watch their boss and friend in a rare moment of publicly displayed affection. When the two finally broke apart for air Lexie notice Mac watching her with a goofy grin on her face before she nodded to something in the doorway. Lexie shifted her gaze to find her parents standing there with a satisfied smirk plastered across their faces. She refused to look around at all the smiles and silly grins from the others, they could just deal with it. Taking Greer by the hand she walked over to her parents.

“Glad you could make it, I'm sure Mac will be pleased. Greer you remember my parents, Diana and Athena.” Lexie said as they approached the two goddesses and making sure to never let go of the larger hand in hers.

“Diana?” Greer's focus shifted between the two older women before giving Lexie a questioning look. To which Lexie simply raised an eyebrow hoping to convey that while there were still women named Athena walking around, you would have a hard time finding an Artemis. And to have the two together would just draw too much attention.

To her credit Greer understood immediately and gave a nod before smiling brightly at the two women. “It's good to see you again.” She squeezed Lexie's hand a little harder, feeling somewhat nervous in front of her girlfriend's parents who had just observed them in a passionate kiss.

The sounds of a successful party filled the air and Lexie was not going to let her parents dampen this newfound exhilaration she had. This was new, something she had never felt before, not even with Inessa and it belonged to her and Greer and no one else.

“Could we speak with you Lexie?” Athena interrupted her daughter's thoughts.

Lexie's head popped up from the self-examining road her mind had started wandering down. “No. Tonight is all about Mac, she's the guest of honor, so why don't you go wish her a happy birthday.”

Artemis not only admired, but also loved her daughter's independent streak, but even she had her limits. Raising an eyebrow she looked Lexie in the eye. “Lexie, get your ass in the house before I make it snow on your little party.” Turning to Greer she gave the woman a genuine smile. “Would you excuse us a moment Greer, we just need Lexie's attention for five minutes then she's all yours again.”

The situation was not serious, but Lexie sometimes forgot how powerful and intimidating her parents could be and despite her defiance she still respected her parents. Reluctantly she let go of the soft hand to tuck a stray blond strand behind a perfect ear. “I'll be right back.” Lexie winked then walked into the house as Artemis followed her.

Greer watched the departing back unsure of exactly what was going on. Before Athena moved inside she stepped over and whispered in Greer's ear. “This won't take long.” She smiled and winked at the unsure woman then followed her family inside.

The front room was the furthest away from where most people were congregated so Lexie went there and plopped down on the piano bench then turned to her mother. “Just what is so important you have to interrupt Mac's party?”

Artemis sat next to her daughter. “You are.” At the confused look on her daughters face she went on to explain. “You seemed a little out of sorts back in France and we just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Opened mouth disbelief was what the goddess got in return. “Seriously?” Lexie asked flatly.

“Seriously.” Her mother replied.

Turning to the keyboard Lexie gently stroked a few keys. “I'm fine.” She looked up at her Mom who was standing beside her. “In fact I'm probably better than fine and that's something new for me. So just give me a little time here to figure it out.”

“And this is because of Greer?” Her mother asked as she gently leaned a shoulder into Lexie.

“Yes, it's because of Greer.” Lexie answered looking back down at the keys.

Artemis wrapped an arm around her daughter's shoulders. “That's okay Lex, she's a nice girl. You could do with a little nice in your life.”

Her mom bumped a hip into her shoulder. “Maybe even a little more than nice?” Athena grinned down at Lexie.

Focusing on the keys, Lexie blushed and ducked her head even closer to her chin. Trying to draw attention away from her scarlet cheeks she began to play a tune. Behind her back her parents shared a satisfied smile. Artemis joined in playing with Lexie, perfectly matching her just as they often had done so many years ago. The piece was complicated and beautiful and just the thing needed to relax the three women until they were the comfortable and close family they had once been so many years ago.

The sound of music playing and the occasional laughter was intriguing enough to pull Greer in from outside. She stood in the doorway to the room and watched as Lexie and her mother played the piano while Athena stood behind her daughter, arms wrapped around the small shoulders and occasionally reaching out to play a chord. The three were smiling and having a good time. And the sight of Lexie so completely relaxed warmed Greer, as she stood content to just watch the beautiful woman.

A few others had been drawn in by the sound of the piano and stood just inside the room listening to the impromptu concert. When the piece came to an end both Artemis and Athena wrapped Lexie in a smothering hug until she begged for air. Their playful moment was interrupted by applause with Mac leading the pack and shouting ‘bravo'.

Digging her way out of her parents crushing embrace Lexie looked around at her friends and colleagues. “Ladies and gentlemen, my parents, Diana and Athena.” She laughed as the two women took an exaggerated bow. Knowing an opportunity when one presented itself, Lexie slipped away and moved next to Greer's side.

“I didn't know you could play the piano. That's quite an act you three have. I shouldn't be surprised really.” Greer beamed down at Lexie as she ran a hand down the toned arm joining their hands once again. “Is there anything you can't do?”

Leaning in to kiss a rosy cheek, Lexie whispered in Greer's ear. “A world of things.” She tugged on the hand that held hers and led them back outside where Teresa had taken advantage of the distraction to set up the birthday cake. “Besides, my piano teacher, Chopin was really good. And very strict.”

“Chopin? Fredrick Chopin was your piano teacher?” Greer asked in complete awe.

“No.” Lexie replied almost with distasted. Greer felt a little relieved for some reason. “His sister Ludwika was way better then he was. Who do you think taught him to play?”

That feeling of just how enormous Lexie's life was washed over Greer once again. She could easily forget how old Lexie was but then a simple statement like Chopin was her piano teacher reminded her of how different and amazing the woman truly was.

The thought crossed her mind that this, all of this, should be freaking her out. Instead she pressed closer into Lexie's side and felt completely at home. With absolute certainty Greer shut off her logical mind and allowed herself to just go with the feeling of peace and contentment.

Loud voices preceded Mac through the door as Artemis and Athena escorted her to the table where the huge birthday cake sat as everyone broke into a rousing rendition of ‘for she's a jolly good fellow'. Mac didn't really like all the attention, but being a good sport she had the grace to be humbled by the love of her friends. Not to mention she was in seventh heaven having a Goddess on each arm.

The song concluded as everyone cheered, masking the arrival of one smoking hot blonde stranger. Stepping forward out of the crowd she planted a big sensuous kiss on Mac that left her speechless, the stunning woman whispered in her ear, “Happy birthday gorgeous” in a voice that curled Mac's toes and stole her breath. Had it not been for Artemis and Athena holding up the lanky Scot, Mac would have found herself on the ground. In the blink of an eye the blonde disappeared back into the crowd and headed inside. As far as Mac was concerned, this was the best birthday ever. She had a Goddess on each arm and Aphrodite had just given her the most exquisite kiss she had ever experienced. And they had yet to get around to opening the presents!

A low rumble growled in Lexie's throat as she watched her aunt slink back into the house and she made a mental note to have a talk with Aphie about seducing her friends. Because that was what a kiss from Aphrodite was, a total seduction. Noticing Mac's eyes glaze over as she tried to follow the path of the older blonde, she knew she needed to do something to break Aphrodite's spell.

While everyone had been preoccupied with the piano concert Teresa had prepared the cake and set out fluted glasses of champagne. Lexie picked up two stems and handed one to Greer then grabbed another and stepped over to Mac.

“Alright everyone quiet down and grab a glass of the bubbly stuff.” Lexie called out as she handed a glass to Mac. Artemis and Athena released their hold and quietly took a step back. While Greer passed a glass to Mac's date hoping the girl did not feel too left out. Lexie gave everyone a moment to get a glass and settle down. An easy silence fell over the crowd and blue eyes sparkled as Lexie gave Mac a devilish grin.

“Well Mac, another year has gone by and you're still standing.” Lexie said loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Yeah and with you around that's a real challenge.” Mac cut in, laughing along with everyone else.

“Well we have to keep you on your toes otherwise senility might set into that aging addled brain of yours.” Mac shot Lexie a dirty look before the smaller woman continued. “But seriously, another year just seems to have made you better, bossier, but better; a better designer, a better manager, a bit smarter, a better friend and even better company you old curmudgeon.” Mac's smile turned into a frown as she stood glaring down at Lexie. “So we all have come together to celebrate your life on this planet and how lucky we are to have you in our lives. We raise our glass to you my friend. May you continue to have great success in everything you do. To a long life and good health.”

All the guests raised their glasses to toast Mac. The Scot paused for a moment; surprised she had not been thoroughly embarrassed or raked over the coals by Lexie, as she had been every year since they met. Downing almost the entire glass of champagne Mac looked around at her friends knowing just how great a life she really had. Delivering that part to a rundown warehouse on the edge of Edinburgh had been the best thing that had ever happened to her, she thought to herself.

With everyone in a festive mood Lexie shouted out “present time!” and the momentum of the crowd helped usher Mac to the table of presents beside the house. Greer and Becks pitched in to help Teresa cut and distribute the cake while Mac began opening gifts like a five year old. Lexie stood to the side and watched as a few racy gifts and a couple bottles of decent Scotch were revealed. She laughed at how well her cast knew their manager.

Several sets of sexy underwear, a knife and a travel mug later Mac opened the bottle of very expensive Scotch Greer had bought. Practically drooling Mac looked around zeroing in on the beautiful blonde. She quickly wrapped Greer in a crushing hug then planted a kiss on her, Lexie raised an eyebrow and cleared her throat at the over impulsive action.

Releasing the very surprised Greer, Mac beamed at her friend. “Only the finest Scotch to come out of the motherland.” Mac said as way of explanation. “Did you really think I would pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity?” Mac whispered to Lexie as she smiled at Greer.

“Just finish opening your presents there Hotlips. And know that Greer is not one of them.” Lexie smirked as Greer moved to her side.

The next box was the leather computer bag from Sarina's shop. Mac was thrilled with the bag as her old one was looking a little worse for wear. She thanked Lexie and reached for the largest box. Inside was the soft brown leather coat similar to the one Lexie wore when she went out to fight.

“Well don't just stand there looking at it, try it on.” Lexie prodded the stunned woman.

Mac slipped the coat on and the feel of the cool soft leather wrapped around her, the fit was perfect. As Lexie knew she would, Mac shoved her hands in the pockets and found something there. She pulled out an envelope that simply read ‘Mac'. She gave Lexie a questioning look wanting to know if she should open it now or later. Lexie smiled and nodded her head; this was the moment she had been waiting for.

Other than Lexie, Greer was the only other person who knew what the letter contained. She had drawn it up herself and was very anxious to see Mac's reaction. A hush fell over the large group, as they seemed to sense this was something important.

Grinning, Mac opened the envelope and pulled out the papers. As she read her grin faltered and her eyes began to fill with tears. She had to blink several times in order to keep on reading. When Mac finished she turned to Lexie, stunned and confused. She tried to move but her body refused to obey her overloaded mind. Releasing Greer, Lexie took the few steps to her friend. She pulled Mac down to her and wrapped the crying woman in a comforting embrace. The atmosphere of the party had taken a decidedly down turn as the guest tried to figure out exactly what was going on and why Mac, who never cried, was blubbering like a baby while Lexie was whispering into her ear exactly what the contents of the letter meant.

Devon and his wife Becks took a step closer to Greer who was trying desperately to contain the laughter that was threatening to escape her. The grin across the woman's face told them it could not be all bad news. “Hey Greer, what the hell is going on?” Devon asked as he worried a little about his tough boss.

Leaning closer, Greer whispered. “Lexie just gave half the company to Mac.”

The moment was interrupted when a loud roar came from Mac as she picked up Lexie and spun her around a few times. Depositing the small woman back on the ground, Mac wrapped an arm around the small neck and gave a squeeze. “Damn it Lexie you little shit, you did it again. Why do you always have to embarrass me every year?”

Lexie looked up and grinned. “Tradition.” Her goal had been achieved. She was able to begin the process of handing over the company to Mac while causing the stoic Scotswoman a little lighthearted embarrassment. To the still confused audience she smiled. “Boys and girls, say hello to your new boss.”

“Half boss!” Mac quickly corrected.

“For now.” Lexie whispered to the still recovering woman.

Noise exploded all around them as bodies pressed in to congratulate Mac. Lexie slowly slipped away to find Greer. The real gift Lexie had given Mac had been to make her a full fifty percent partner in the business. And in ten years time, unless Lexie decided to do so earlier, the entire company would become the sole property of one Fiona MacIngish. She was insuring Mac's future. Lexie knew she would not be able to continue with the company for Mac's entire life, there would be too many questions and suspicion would arise as to who she was. A lesson she had learned a long time ago. They would always remain friends, but a time would come when she could no longer be the face of The Nightshadows Ensemble. And if the company continued its success it would ensure Mac a comfortable and well provided for retirement.

Just inside the house Lexie found Greer deep in conversation with her parents. As she approached Athena wrapped an arm around her daughter's shoulders and pulled her close. “Greer was just explaining what you did. That was very nice of you Lexie. We are very proud of you.” The Goddess bestowed a kiss on top of the wild locks before releasing Lexie to join Greer.

“I need to steal Greer for a while. We might not see you later, so I'm really glad you came.”

Taking her wife by the hand Artemis smiled at her daughter and the woman she was becoming very fond of. “Send us tickets to opening night.” Lexie nodded and before Greer could say anything they were gone.

Blinking a few times Greer shook her head to dispel the image of two women disappearing. “That is going to take some getting use to.”

A sense of relief and anticipation washed over Lexie as she wrapped an arm around Greer's slim waist. She breathed in the fresh sweet scent that she identified with the blonde. Losing herself for a moment in the intoxicating smell Lexie pressed into Greer wanting to feel the warmth of the woman along her entire body. “Would you like to get out of here?”

Greer tilted her head down for a kiss and whispered in a heavy thick voice. “Yes, please.”

The kiss quickly became heated, driven by a primal need to be together. Before it turned into a floor show Lexie took one larger hand into her own and quickly pulled her out the front door and around to the garage. Once inside she held out the leather jacket she had purchased earlier. Greer slipped into the garment marveling at how soft and comfortable it felt. It was a perfect fit and she idly wondered if maybe she needed to add more leather to her wardrobe.

“If you're going to ride around with me, you need a good jacket.” Lexie grinned and handed her a helmet. “Here, put this on.” Putting her own helmet on she quickly turned on the communicator and climbed on the bike. Greer followed, being as modest as she could in a dress. Lexie started the bike and drove them to the end of the driveway then turned east and took off. High above on the terrace Mac watched them leave with a satisfied grin. It was indeed her best birthday.

Night was descending as Lexie turned onto a deserted country road. She pulled to a stop and looked over her shoulder. “Do you trust me Greer?”


“I want you to close your eyes and hold on tight. No matter what you feel don't let go.” Greer did as she was told and for extra safety she burrowed herself into Lexie's back. The flood of warmth Lexie had imagined before could not compare to actually having Greer holding her. Accelerating once again Lexie moved them forward. Almost instantly a tingling sensation came over Greer then just as quickly it was gone. “You can open your eyes now” Lexie told her.

In the few seconds Greer had her eyes closed complete darkness had descended and the air seemed a little warmer. Through the darkness she felt rather than could see that the terrain had changed. “Lexie, where are we?”

“ Greece .” Lexie replied with a grin.

“What!” Greer screamed into the mic almost deafening the smaller woman. Before she could question further she felt the bike turn onto a rough dirt road. And soon they pulled to a stop in front of a small stone and plaster house. The whitewashed walls shinning dimly through the dark.

Lexie waited for Greer to dismount before rolling the bike under the overhang on the porch. She pulled off her helmet and placed it along with Greer's on the seat, then pulled out a key and opened the door. Holding out a hand to Greer she smiled at the surprised green eyes. “Welcome to my home.”

Following Lexie inside Greer was speechless at the sight. It was a small comfortable cottage with white walls and a wooden floor. There was nothing ornate or special about it and yet it was the most beautiful place Greer had ever seen. Oil lanterns hung from the walls casting a soft light over the entire space. There were a few simple yet comfortable chairs in front of the fireplace, each with its own rough cut side table and a hand woven rug occupied the floor beneath them. The place was neat and tidy with a couple of bookcases lining the walls. Each contained piles of books and little figurines. A few framed pictures were scattered on the shelves and a pile of throw pillows sat on the floor, a soft blanket was neatly folded on the back of one of the chairs. Age was evident in everything, but how old Greer could not be sure.

The living room opened into the kitchen with its potbellied stove and stone sink. A hand pump was the only plumbing that could be seen and Greer wonder just how long Lexie had owned the place. A large handmade table with four little chairs took up the center of the room and presently was covered with an assortment of food.

Greer stood taking everything in while Lexie walked over to a cooler under the worktable beside the sink. She pulled out a bottle of wine and grabbed two glasses off a shelf on the wall. Filling the glasses she held one out to Greer.

After thoroughly taking in her surroundings Greer could not take her eyes off the small wonder of a woman who was just one surprise after another. “I don't remember you having a place in Greece .”

“This one is off the books.” Lexie grinned as she moved to the table to sample some of its delicacies. “Hungry?” Picking up an olive Lexie held it up to Greer's lips.

Greer paused only a moment before taking the offering between her teeth and sucking Lexie's fingers into her mouth. The two never broke eye contact as she released the fingers and chewed the olive. She watched as bright blue eyes turned a light grey. “That was nice, but it really wasn't what I'm hungry for.”

“Then perhaps I need to try harder to satisfy your needs.” Lexie said as she stepped into Greer's arms and kissed her parted lips. The briny taste of the olive mixed with the sweet taste that was Greer drew a moan from deep in her throat. As the kiss ended Lexie only pulled back enough to look into dark green eyes. “There's another room here, would you like to see it?”

“I would love to see it.” Greer whispered in a deep husky voice before kissing her way up Lexie's throat to reach her mouth.

Without breaking their embrace Lexie guided them through a door off the kitchen and into the small bedroom. The soft light of a single lantern cast shadows around the room and gave it a warm feeling. A four-poster bed sat in the middle of the room with a pile of soft down pillows and a handmade quilt on it. The sturdy little table beside it held the single lantern and a bouquet of roses. Another bouquet sat atop a dresser on one wall and yet another on a table near the door.

Bumping the back of her legs into the bed, Greer paused a moment and looked around. The romantic sight was not lost on her. “Lexie, this is beautiful. When did you do all this?”

“This afternoon, I wanted to surprise you.”

“You surprise me every day.”

“Is that a good thing?” Lexie asked almost hesitantly.

“It's a wonderful thing.” Greer smiled as she captured the soft lips again and began tugging at the bottom of Lexie's shirt.

Wrapping her hands around Greer's hips Lexie lifted the taller woman and gently deposited her on the bed. She quickly divested herself of her clothing as Greer's breathing became increasingly more ragged. Greer began to pull off her own clothes, but stopped when Lexie brushed her hands away, wanting this pleasure all to herself. Slowly she undressed the beauty before her, taking in every smooth curve and plane. Lexie stood admiring the perfect body for a moment before Greer pulled her into the bed and on top of said body.



Thin ribbons of golden light floated into the room through the shuttered window, casting themselves on the whitewashed walls and across the bed. Greer lay wrapped in Lexie's embrace trying to snuggle closer as the bright bands of light slid over her face. Unable to escape one small finger of light Greer slowly opened her eyes. The room was still mostly darkened only now a soft dim light was slowly filling the space. Breathing in the sent of her lover, green eyes looked up to meet blue. Lexie was smiling down at her looking very satisfied.

“Morning.” Greer smiled as she reached up for a kiss.

“Morning.” Lexie replied before she was lost in the kiss.

A few moments passed before Greer pulled back for air. “I do believe that is the very best way to wake up.”

“I agree, but I'm surprised you're up.”

“Why? What time is it?”

“Well the sun has barely been up for an hour, but you only went to sleep just before that.” Lexie grinned.

Blushing, Greer grinned at the woman holding her. “Funny I don't feel tired.”

“Great you want to go do something.” Lexie enthused as she started to pull away.

Greer firmly grabbed the small woman and pulled her back down until there was no space between them. “The only thing I want to do involves not getting out of this bed.” Capturing Lexie's lips with her own she began to show Lexie once again just how much she could do not leaving the bed.

“Sweet Olympus !” Lexie gasped. “And they say I have boundless energy!” She managed before giving in completely to the woman in her arms.

An entire day, which had been proceeded by an entire night of lovemaking, successfully managed to put them both soundly asleep by late afternoon. It was not until the middle of the night before they woke again. This time the need for food and drink drove them out of bed. Lexie quickly started a fire in the fireplace to take the slight chill out of the air then dragged all the linens and pillows from the bed to make a comfortable place for them to lounge and eat. Greer found plates and heaped them with food, grabbed another bottle of wine and placed it all in front of the fire.

“Uh, Lex, I don't suppose you have a bathroom in this place?” Greer asked feeling the call of nature.

“Sure, out back.” Lexie answered as she continued to stoke the fire. Not hearing any movement on the blonde's part she looked up to find green eyes the size of saucers staring back at her. Smiling she got up and began guiding Greer to the backdoor. “I prefer the tree on the left, but you can have the one on the right.” Lexie grinned as she opened the door and pulled Greer out.

Glowing in the moonlight stood a small stone building, a shed really. Unsure, but hoping it was an outhouse Greer took her first relieved breath as Lexie led her to the building. Inside was a composting toilet, a stone sink with a hand pump and a giant claw foot tub. A small fireplace was at one end of the tub had a pipe running through it that came down from the ceiling and into the tub. The sink was at the other end and the hand pump could swivel to fill either the tub or sink. Greer could not help grinning at the clever setup. A handle sticking out of the wall allowed you to fill a cistern on the roof so water could be warmed by the sun then flow down through pipes and into the fireplace to be heated up even more. The pump at the sink provided the cold water. And the fireplace not only acted as a hot water heater, it also kept the room warm as well. Windows all around could be opened in the summer to allow a breeze in so the fire did not become overwhelming.

“This is great Lexie, perhaps later we can take a bath.” Greer suggested while wriggling her eyebrows.

“Anything you wish. For now, I will leave you to it.” Kissing the soft cheek one more time Lexie headed back inside.

After both had a turn in the primitive bathroom, they got comfortable in front of the fire and proceeded to eat everything in sight. Greer was the first to roll back onto her side. She watched as Lexie finished off the platter of humus and could not help wondering where the small body managed to fit that much food.

“You must have the metabolism of a humming bird.” Greer marveled at Lexie.

With an impish grin Lexie ducked her head, looking through her unruly bangs at the blonde beauty. “Well I have to keep my strength up and haven't eaten in over twenty-four hours. I'm lucky I'm not dead.”

“Hummm, I guess I have to keep trying then.” Greer laughed. She pulled Lexie next to her and they lay together watching the fire. Nearly a quarter of an hour passed before Greer spoke again. “So tell me Lexie, what is this place? And why didn't I find it in any of your files?”

Lexie stretched causing her vertebrae to pop before tossing a few more logs on the fire. “I told you it's my home. This is where I was born. Well, it has been changed over the years. It's fallen down a few times and had to be rebuilt, but for the most part it stands just as it did all those years ago. Oh, and the bathhouse is only a couple hundred years old.” Lexie added as if it were still a new toy. “The timbers and plaster had to be replaced, but it's still the original stones. My mother says I'm sentimental, but I like the old place. It reminds me of who I am and just how far I've come and in some ways it keeps me grounded. I don't get to spend much time here and I mostly come to be by myself. You're the first person I've ever brought here.”

Greer was struck by Lexie's last statement. “You mean in all the years you've never brought anyone else here?” As Lexie solemnly nodded her head tears began to fill the sparkling green eyes. “Thank you.” She said as she moved closer in order to capture tender lips again.

What little remained of the night was spent cuddled together talking. And while Lexie did have the advantage of being around for all of Greer's life, she wanted to hear the details from the woman herself. Listening to Greer's passion for life and the people she wanted to help felt familiar to Lexie. At last here was someone who could understand her, someone whom she wanted to understand her.

Wrapped in Lexie's arms, snuggled in front of the fire, Greer felt safer than she had ever felt. This feeling started her thinking about how it was Lexie's job to keep everyone safe. “So how is it that you keep the entire world safe?”

Lexie pulled back a little to look into curious green eyes. “I don't.” Before the barrage of questions she could see in those eyes could start, she explained. “I'm not the only protector. I'm more of a regional representative.” At the confused look on Greer's face she continued with a smile. “There are four of us. There used to be more, but the fight can be hard and some have fallen, we've had to expand our territory. I look after everything from the Emerald Isle to Russia and the North Country to Egypt . Actually Egypt falls more into Mlinzi's territory, but in the old days when Egypt was mighty we worked together a lot. He oversees all of Africa and up into the Middle East . Nitch'I is the guardian for the Americas . And Hogosha protects Asia .”

A sadness momentarily flickered in Lexie's eyes at the mention of Hogosha and Greer knew there was a story there. “Tell me more.” She asked, gently stroking the arm that was draped across her waist.

Memories of each of her comrades floated across Lexie's memory. She had worked with each of them at one time or another, but it was the memory of Hogosha that was felt the most. “Nitch'I is a very wise woman and a good shaman to her people, very quiet and soft spoken, but watch out when it comes to a fight. She is the only fallen one to have come back as a spirit to protect her people. Mlinzi still lives by the old ways out on the plains of the savannah, we don't see each other much anymore except to fight together.” Lexie fell silent for a moment trying to compose her thoughts on Hogosha.

“And Hogosha?” Greer prompted, pulling Lexie out of the memories.

“Hogosha is both gentle and intense. She is a strong fighter and she walks between this world and the spirit world.” Lexie looked at Greer who was waiting for the rest of the story. “I use to visit her a lot, she and my mother were good friends and it helped to draw us together, until this one particular bakemono came along. We went after it together because it had wreaked havoc on several villages, killing almost a hundred people. I don't remember all the details but suffice it to say something went horribly wrong. Hogosha was in a bad position and I tried to protect her. I managed to kill it but nearly ended up dead.” Lexie smiled reassuringly at the look of concern from Greer. “I slept for nearly two years while recovering. Apparently my mother ripped Hogosha a new one while I was in la-la land and if it hadn't been for my mom she would have buried the woman. When I woke up I found a katana at the foot of my bed, my sword had been destroyed in the fight.”

“Your sword, the katana you always fight with?” Lexie gave a small smile and bounced her eyebrows in acknowledgment. “So are you still friends?”

“Sort of, Hogosha won't allow a close friendship anymore, she still blames herself for what happened. And my mother didn't help.”

Greer reached up to brush away the lines that had formed on the sad brow. “If you miss your friendship that much maybe it's time you talked to her and let go of the past together.”

Lexie pulled Greer into a tight hug. “You're right, it's time to let go of the past.” She gave her a gentle kiss then quickly stood and reached for both of her lover's hands. Lexie guided Greer outside once again to watch the sunrise over the craggy mountains; it was her favorite time of day here on her little homestead and no matter how long she lived it was a sight she never tired of.

“So what now?” Greer spoke barely above a whisper not wanting to break the tranquility surrounding them.

Turning in the arms that held her, Lexie smiled up at the beautiful blonde. The morning rays making the soft honey colored hair shine like spun gold and gently highlighting each curve of Greer's face. “Now.” Lexie crinkled her forehead in thought. “Well, we seem to be out of supplies and I have a company waiting for me to whip them into shape. And I'm afraid you have been away from your father for far too long. So what happens next is in part up to you.” Lexie watched the shadow of worry fall over Greer's features at the mention of her father. “I do have a suggestion, but it is entirely your choice. Do you understand Greer?” The confused look compelled Lexie to continue. “Greer, I'm not sure how this happened, but I find myself not wanting to be without you, however, I have a company to run that I just happen to be the star of. And I also have this little side business that is completely secret. So if you would like to continue this, I can come and see you every night or most nights depending on work. Maybe even some days once we are on the road and the show is running smoothly. I can teleport to you anytime you want. You've seen some of the worst my life has to offer and I am by no means easy to get along with…”

Grabbing Lexie's face with both her hands, Greer's sudden action forced the smaller woman to be quiet. “Are you trying to talk me out of this or into it? Lexie, I have never been drawn to someone as quickly and with such force as I am to you. I know your life is not easy or typical, but that's okay, I'm not exactly your typical girl. I love you Lexie, so if you have the power to make this work then do it, enough with the talking.” To take any sting out of her words Greer kissed the lips that her thumb was tracing.

Long moments passed before they broke apart. “I love you too Greer. I just need you to understand what you're getting into.” Lexie breathed as she stared into shining green eyes.

“Understanding you? That could take a lifetime.” Greer grinned. “I guess I better get started.” They kissed again before heading back inside to clean up and gather their things.

The return trip to Italy was much the same as going to Greece had been. After stowing her bike in the garage Lexie ushered Greer inside the house, deftly avoiding Teresa. Once upstairs she waited while Greer packed. It did not take long before she was ready. As Greer handed the motorcycle jacket back to Lexie she thanked her for letting her use it. Lexie took the jacket and wrapped it around Greer's shoulders. “I didn't let you borrow it. goofy, it's a little big for me don't you think? This is yours Greer, I was hoping to take you on more than one ride.” Lexie grinned as she took Greer's hand in hers and picked up the packed suitcase. “Ready?”

Greer nodded her head and took a deep breath before closing her eyes. The tingling feeling came over her and the next thing she knew Lexie was wriggling her hand. She opened her eyes and they were standing in the hallway of her house. Two seconds later Mrs. Stark came around a corner at the end of the hall. The older woman gave a shriek at seeing the two standing there.

“Are you trying to give an old woman a heart attack? When did you get here, I didn't hear the door open?” Mrs. Stark exclaimed as she fanned her chest with both hands.

“Sorry Mrs. Stark, we didn't mean to frighten you. We were just trying not to disturb anyone.” Greer said as she walked forward meeting the woman and giving her a hug.

The older woman allowed the hug, but eyed Lexie. She had noticed when Greer let go of Lexie's hand to hug her and wondered just what had been going on while her Greer had been out of town.

The close and intense scrutiny was making Lexie uncomfortable and she was doing her best not to squirm. Both Greer and Mrs. Stark noticed the unease. Before the older woman could begin an inquest Greer gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and walked back over to Lexie. Taking the small hand in her own again she gave her old housekeeper a cheeky grin. “Come on Lex, say hello to Papa before you leave.” Greer said as she began dragging Lexie to the stairs. “I'll see you for dinner Mrs. Stark.” And with that the two hurried up the staircase leaving a stunned, but smiling Mrs. Stark behind.

It was still quite early, but as Greer knew he would be, her father was in his lounge reading the morning paper. She burst through the door and hurried over to him on the sofa, leaving Lexie standing at the door. Lexie watched the old mans eyes light up upon seeing his daughter. She laughed to herself as Greer flung onto the sofa and wrapped the man in a crushing hug. Leaving the suitcase by the door Lexie walked over to where Greer was excitedly telling her father about her trip, or at least parts of it, while checking over him so she could reassure herself he had survived her absence.

“Hello Joseph, I thought I should return your wayward daughter. I hope you don't mind that we kept her for so long. Mac's birthday and all, you know.” Lexie smiled down at the man. It occurred to her that he did not look as frail as he had the last time she visited. “Your looking good old man. Life must be agreeing with you.” She grinned as Ginny the private nurse walked in.

“Just what is all the racket going on in this house.” Ginny scolded as she walked through the door. Upon seeing Greer and Lexie the woman's face softened and she gave them a small smile. “Oh, sorry Greer, I didn't realize you were back. That must have been what Alva was screaming about. You would have thought the woman had seen a mouse or something. Welcome home.”

“Thank you Ginny. Papa looks great, I see you've been keeping after him to do his exercise.” Joseph let out an aggravated huff, which sent all three women into laughter. “You should be grateful Papa, without Ginny you would still be sitting over there staring out the window.”

“She's right you know Joseph, life is hard work, nobody gets out of it that easy.” Lexie said as she watched the father and daughter. Joseph gave her a hard look and she answered immediately. “That's what you think. We've know each other too long to know that's not true.”

Ginny looked between the man and small woman. She had become accustom to figuring out some of Joseph's unspoken commands, but she could not understand what the two of them were talking about. Greer noticed the confused look on the nurse's face and jumped up. She walked over and wrapped an arm around the woman's shoulders. “I know, I can't even begin to figure out how they do that.” She turned to Lexie. “I'm going to take my suitcase up to my room, will you join me when you're done here?” Lexie gave her a small smile and a single nod of her head. “I'll see you later Papa and tell you all about my trip over lunch.” Giving Ginny one last squeeze she left the three behind and went upstairs.

Silence loomed for a few moments before Ginny excused herself, sensing the two needed to be alone. Lexie took a seat next to Joseph on the sofa, but unlike Greer who had practically been in the man's lap, she sat an appropriate distance away. She could easily read the questions and concern in the man's eyes and wanted to relieve her old friend of some of his fears. “She's fine Joseph, I looked out for her. I always will, I promise.” She could sense more questions, but some of those answers were Greer's to give. “I care a great deal about her and I will do everything in my power to see to it she is safe and taken care of.” Lexie laughed at her own words. “In so much as she will let me. That's quite a headstrong girl you've got their old friend. So much like her father and exactly like her mother.” They both laughed at the truth of the statement. Reaching over Lexie took one of the hands in her own noticing they were beginning to show signs of aging. She looked deep into the soft brown eyes. “Would you mind if I were around a little more Joseph?”

The man seemed to understand what was being asked. Just as she could understand his unspoken words he felt he could sense what was not being said. He raised the joined hands to his lips and placed a kiss on the back of Lexie's hand and blinked at her several times.

“I will. And if you ever think I'm not taking care of her, you tell me in no uncertain terms. Deal?” Lexie responded as if her life depended on it.

A single nod was all she got in return before he released her to go join Greer. Lexie gave him one last thankful smile before heading out the door and upstairs.



Rehearsals moved along and the show came together as it always did. Almost every night Lexie would pop into Greer's room or they would meet at her place. As far as the family was concerned Lexie was still in town, even though most nights they never even knew she was there. As the date of the first performance approached Lexie's easy streak took an abrupt halt. A red flag popped up on Mac's computer. A creature that could only be described as a dragon was spotted in the Carpathian Mountains on the western border of the Ukraine . It was only by chance that it had been seen late one night after a young man from one of the villages in the foothills of the mountain disappeared. Now wild stories were being circulated and panic was beginning to set in. It would not take long for anger to overtake fear and then they would have a lynch mob on their hands. Some things never changed.

Lexie breathed a deep troubled sigh. Pterosaurs had been living in those mountains for as long as she could remember, so what had caused one to become so reckless as to go near humans was a concern to Lexie. Over the millennia their numbers had dwindled until now there were just a few existing in the world, most living in the highest most desolate mountains in Europe . These creatures were the original stealth flying machines. Flying at night and hunting wild animals or occasionally taking livestock from mountain grazing land, their very rare spotting had created the legends of the dragon. Rumors would die down and finally cease altogether until a spotting happened and then it would begin again. Now Lexie would have to find the dragon first to make sure it was not suffering from some illness, find out what happened to the missing man to calm the villagers, and with only two days until opening night she did not have much time.

“There's a dragon in the Ukraine ? Lex?” Mac watched her troubled friend, she knew that look, and it meant some secret creature that usually was not harmful had just made its presence known in a very unpleasant way.

It always amazed Lexie how Mac seemed to take all the crazy things that turned up in their lives in stride. “They've been there longer than I've been alive. They're not bad really, in fact I've met some quite friendly ones, but they are on the endangered species list.”

“So they're under your protection from humans.”

“Sort of, I've got to find out what's going on. If it's sick it could be disoriented and that might cause it to fly near a village. One mistake like that puts the entire clan at risk. I know about where they are so hopefully it won't take long to find it. I'll make sure I'm back for opening night, even if I have to go back and forth until this is resolved.” Lexie reached for her jacket that was hanging on the back of a nearby chair.

“About that, what's with the instant in and out all of a sudden? What's going on Lex? Your granny give you some new power or something?” Mac asked wondering how Lexie had been doing all the things she had lately.

Lexie grinned up at her confidant. “Apparently it's nothing new, I'm just taking a little Grandmotherly advice and trying to embrace who I am instead of fighting, it's amazing what you find when you open yourself up to it.” Lexie shrugged into her jacket. “And Mac, I don't think I'd let Gaia hear you calling her that.” With a wink at her friend Lexie disappeared.

Mac took an involuntary step backward. It was the first time she had actually seen Lexie disappear like that and it came as a bit of a shock. Mac had known Lexie was different for almost as long as she had known the small woman, but since Greer had come into their lives she had found out more about her friend then she had ever know in the last fifteen years. This thought then made Mac wonder, just who was Greer Diodorus? Shutting her computer down she pushed these thoughts out of her mind as she headed for the dorms. Just in case this so called dragon turned out to be one of the not so nice ones she needed to make sure the troupe was ready to perform their alternate show.



Snow covered the ground and a fierce cold wind blew through the high regions of the Carpathian Mountains . Lexie pulled her hat down even further over her ears trying to keep them from freezing. She was very glad she had taken a few moments to go home and change into more appropriate clothes. The cold usually did not bother her much, but this was a bone chilling, life-stealing cold and she could feel it through her long leather coat.

The first two caves she checked looked as though they had been abandoned years ago. The third held an old dragon deep in its bowels; sleeping around the carcass of a deer it had recently killed. Not wanting to startle any dragon awake, Lexie made her way back to the entrance of the cave and began calling to the animal in their ancient language. After ten minutes of making enough noise to raise the dead she finally heard the sleeping creature stir. She cautiously walked down into the cave, keeping her eyes on the large beast, ready to get out of its way in case it did not feel like company.

Two golden eyes slowly blinked open as the creature tried to push the sleepy haze from its mind. The old dragon lay there tracking Lexie with its eyes; he was easily twenty to thirty times the size of the small human and therefore felt no threat from it. Something tickled at the back of his mind like a small buzzing fly. This human was speaking to him. It had been over a decade since anyone had spoken to him. Blowing out a puff of warm humid breath he tried to concentrate on what the small thing was saying.

Lexie could see the glow of the golden eyes as they watched her, the dragon did not even bother to raise his head as she continued forward. As she approached he suddenly sighed and a cloud of warm rancid breath enveloped her. She stopped breathing instantly and her eyes watered as she took a single step back. After a moment she could no longer feel the breath on her and she dared to take in air. “Oh, try a breath mint would you.” Lexie muttered to herself as she struggled to get fresh air into her lungs. This was close enough she thought, no sense dying of bad breath. She was about to ask the dragon if he had heard of any of his kind flying down below when a loud rumble began in the lower region of the dragon's neck. She quickly pulled up the collar of her coat to cover her mouth.

“Are you a little bug?” The dragon asked in a scratchy gravely voice.

Dropping the collar Lexie smiled as she took a good look at the still reclining dragon. “Yes I am Salvacor. Are you a rising mountain?” It had taken a while, but looking past the grey that had formed around his mouth and the dull sheen of his brown skin, Lexie finally recognized her old friend.

“What brings me to you little bug?” Salvacor asked lifting his chin only slightly off the floor.

Concerned now, Lexie walked up and laid a hand along the dragon's mighty jaw. “Are you alright my friend? You look tired.”

“As I should, you woke me up.” He laid his head back down so he could better see Lexie. “Such worry should not be for me, I may be old, but there is still a lot of life left in these wings. Now what brings you to my home?”

Lexie was becoming accustomed to the stench of his breath and perhaps it was a good thing she now smelled like the inside of a dragon's belly, at least she would not frighten any others away. “You really know how to treat a guest Salvacor. I'm surprised they're not beating the door down to get in here.” She looked up at the dragon who merely blinked at her. She had forgotten just how antisocial dragons were. “One of your kind was seen flying over a village below and a young man has come up missing. People are upset, they're working themselves into a frenzy and I'm worried it could get ugly for both dragons and humans. You remember what happened last time people got worked up? You lost nearly half your population.” Lexie waited for the dragon to respond and just when she thought he had fallen asleep again he spoke.

“People are such frail creatures.” Salvacor closed his eyes once again and puffed out another foul breath.

The full impact of the stench hit Lexie right in the face causing her to gag. “Salvacor I swear, there is mint growing in the upper fields about forty miles from here, try some.” She wiped the tears from her eyes and blinked until they stopped stinging. “I need to talk to all the dragons, can you tell me where I can find them?”

One golden eye opened and focused on Lexie. “There is no need for so much running around. I have heard the bellowing from above. Go to the highest peak to the northwest of here, there is a cave that goes deep into the mountain. Dolanort is whom you seek.” The giant eye closed again. “And little bug, caution, I do not believe he is alone.”

“Thank you Salvacor. Have a good rest my friend, when I come back I want to see the mountain rise again.” Lexie patted the mighty dragon along the side of his head then wrapped her coat tightly around her and headed out of the cave. As she walked away one golden eye opened and followed her path out before closing again and falling back asleep.

Visibility was made difficult because of the snow being blown up from the ground as well as coming down from the sky. Lexie would have to take it one jump at a time until she could reach the high peak. She did not want to just go popping into the cave of a dragon she did not know, especially when he could be in an agitated state. So several jumps later, one of which landed her in a snowdrift up to her chin, Lexie finally made it to the cave on the highest peak. She stepped just inside the opening to listen. Calming herself and slowing her breathing allowed her to hear a faint scratching sound coming from deep within the cave. Unbuttoning her coat so she could easily access her sword she took off her hat and shoved it into an inside pocket. Without making a sound Lexie began the long walk down into the dark cave.

A half a mile in Lexie stopped at the sound of something large and sharp scrapping along the cave floor, she concentrated even harder and peered into the darkness. Coming around a bend the large tunnel opened up into a bowl with a cathedral ceiling. And in the center of the space lay a large black dragon with its back toward the opening. A faint glow was coming from the far side of the dragon where Lexie could not see. Slowly she began to make her way along the curved wall until she was almost even with the dragon's head. The loud scrapping that could be heard was the dragon scratching his claws along the stone floor, the sound reminded Lexie of two large boulders being crushed together. She had been smelling the foul stench of the beasts breath most of the way down the tunnel, now it was almost overpowering. What was it with dragons and bad breath! Just as she was about to continue along the wall one large golden eye opened and focused on her.

“And what do you want?” The deep lazy voice asked.

A twig flew from behind the dragon's right ear and Lexie could hear a high-pitched squeal. “Intruder, intruder!!” She walked around to stand directly in front of the dragon and could see a small farie flitting around the dragon's head screaming at it. “A human, squash it! Squash it!” The small thing kept yelling.

Lexie spoke to the dragon in the old language. “I would appreciate it if you didn't squash me, I've only come to talk.”

Both golden eyes were now focused on Lexie. “Not human. And I was so enjoying my ears being scratched.” The large dragon rumbled. He took a deep breath, smelling her with his large nostrils. “Old human.” He amended his assessment. Lexie could see the small farie fluttering near his ear constantly talking, trying to get him to kill her as the yellowish glow of the farie changed to a deep orange. The dragon had been looking at her with something akin to curiosity when suddenly a cloud of confusion seemed to cross his features. A growl began deep in his belly and slowly bubbled up his throat.

It was at that moment Lexie understood what she was dealing with. The dragon was being controlled by a mamuna farie. They lived in the forests of Poland and got their jollies by leading people down the wrong path, literally and figuratively. Apparently this little spitfire decided to go after a bigger target for maximum mischief. Knowing that as long as the dragon was under the farie's influence she did not stand a chance, Lexie began talking. She knew it would be too dangerous to confront him directly so she talked of her concern for Salvacor and what could they do to help him. This line of questioning began to confuse the dragon and anger the farie even more. As Dolanort began to calm the farie took a dive at Lexie. It was just the opportunity she had been hoping for. In a blur of movement Lexie reached out and caught the small farie as it made to strike at her face. Looking down at the reddened little face it did not seem possible for the string of obscenities that was coming from such a tiny little mouth. Her arm jerked up and down while trying to hold onto the small but fierce creature.

With the farie no longer buzzing in his ear Dolanort raised his head and blinked several times to clear his mind. “What is that thing you hold?”

Looking down at the small winged creature Lexie frowned, it was still screaming and cursing. She could feel it trying to work its magic on her, but as it was having no effect the tiny thing just got angrier and angrier. “It's a mamuna farie. I'm afraid it's been influencing you to do some rather stupid things.” Lexie's arm was being jerked rather hard so she used both hands to subdue the little menace. No sooner had she put her other hand over its mouth than it bit her. Tiny teeth sunk completely through the flesh between her right thumb and first finger. The pain was excruciating and Lexie let out a scream, but instead of letting go as the farie had hoped she increased her grip with her left hand nearly squeezing the small body to death. Reaching inside her coat pocket she pulled out the thick lined leather hat she had been wearing and shoved the farie inside, quickly wrapping it around the struggling body. Bending down she removed one of her bootlaces and tied up the little creature like a dressed goose. She looked down at her hand, which had already begun to swell and turn red with infection. Small steady drops of blood dripped to the floor and Lexie could feel her head beginning to swim. ‘Damned magical creatures.' She thought to herself.

Dolanort watched as Lexie tied up her prisoner. “You are bleeding on my floor.”

“Yeah, sorry about that, but we have bigger problems right now. Do you remember flying down to the village? Maybe picking up a young man for a late night snack?” Lexie asked losing patients with how things were going.

The dragon blinked several times before answering her. “Oh dear, I did fly over the village. I don't know what made me, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.”

“She made you.” Lexie said holding up her squirming hat. “What about the boy?”

Again the dragon blinked several times before closing his eyes. Lexie could not help wondering why such big animals were so slow. Opening his eyes and focusing on the small old human before him Dolanort replied. “There was no boy.”

“Are you sure?” Lexie questioned the dragon. She could have sworn she saw him raise and eyebrow at her.

“I did not take anyone from the village or anywhere else.” He answered with authority.

“And I have never eaten a human for a late night snack or otherwise. I could never get past the smell.” Dolanort said rather disgusted.

This time it was Lexie's turn to raise both eyebrows at him. He couldn't get past the smell!?! Oh brother. She did believe him though and at least she had discovered the problem and it was easily solved. Now all she had to do was find out what happened to the missing villager and convince everyone they had all seen, what, the worlds largest turkey buzzard or maybe a spy plane. Yes, she like that one, a spy plane over the Ukraine near the Polish border, she could buy that. A wave of nausea washed over her and Lexie gagged trying not to throw up.

“Do not regurgitate in my home, if you must do that please go outside.” Dolanort curled his upper lip in disgust showing a row of very large very sharp teeth. Lexie knew there was nothing more she could do here and began to make her way around the large body lying on the floor. “Wait, one moment. You said something about Salvacor.”

Lexie stopped long enough to turn and smile at the large creature. “Maybe you could look in on him sometime, be a friend.” Tightening her grip on her hat, Lexie made her way out of the cave and instantly disappeared.



After dropping off her annoying little friend with the Sudice, the farie world's version of The Fates, Lexie called a friend of hers in Cernivci and had him go to the village and begin the rumor of a spy plane that had been seen flying in the area at night. With this worry off their minds the family of the young man did some further investigating and found out he had run off to be with a girl he had met in Kiev .

By the time she arrived back home her hand was swollen to almost twice its size and she was running a fever. She had only been gone one day, but it felt like a week. The stench of dragon's breath could be smelled throughout the house and Teresa followed the smell to find its source. Upon entering Lexie's bedroom she found the small woman collapsed on the floor sweating and shivering.

Lexie allowed the fussy woman to draw her a bath, but insisted on undressing herself. She did not want Teresa to find her sword; it would just cause too many questions. Once in the tub she called Mac and asked her to come over, then called Greer and left a message letting her know she would not be able to make it again tonight. She hated disappointing Greer, but she also could not show up in the condition she was in. Sliding under the water Lexie wondered just how many times Greer would put up with being disappointed before she walked away.

Twenty minutes later Mac walked in to find Lexie shivering in a cooled down tub of water and muttering about letting everyone down. She pulled the plug and grabbed a large fluffy towel from the cabinet, scooping up her small friend and wrapping her in the warm towel. Mac carried Lexie to the bed and tucked her under a pile of heavy blankets. She towel dried the unruly hair and then called down to Teresa. By the time the older woman came puffing up the stairs with a bowl of soup, Mac had already hidden Lexie's sword and gathered the offending clothes into a pile. She traded with Teresa and sat down beside her best friend. Patiently she tried to get Lexie to take a sip but the fevered woman would have none of it.

Lexie's rambling had stopped as soon as she got into bed, now she shivered as sweat poured off her. Mac had noticed the damaged hand and lifted the blankets to get a better look at it. Small puncture wounds could clearly be seen in the swollen fleshy part of the hand. It was bright red and darkest around the punctures. Lexie's skin felt on fire. Unsure what to do Mac called the only doctor she knew of that Lexie would ever let touch her.

An hour later Lexie's phone rang on her bedside table rousing Mac from her thoughts as she tried to cool down Lexie's temperature with a cool damp cloth. Checking the caller ID she grimaced at the thought of having to tell Greer that Lexie was sick.

“Hello Greer.”

Recognizing the thick brogue, Greer smiled into the phone. “Hi Mac, is Lexie available?” It was not the first time Mac had answered Lexie's phone, it usually meant her lover was high in the air trying to fly like a bird.

“Uh, not right now love, I'm going to have to get her to call you tomorrow, she's uh, just feeling a little under the weather right now and she's sleeping.” Mac stumbled through hoping it did not sound too distressing.

To the best of Greer's knowledge Mac had never called her love. “Mac, what's wrong.”

“It's nothing really. I think. I mean, you know, Lex gets over these things really fast.” Great now she was sounding like a bumbling idiot.

Taking a deep breath Greer took a seat on her bed. “You're scaring me Mac, so just tell me what has happened. Lexie called yesterday and said she had to go to the Ukraine .” Greer paused waiting for Mac to fill in the rest of the story. “And…”

“I'm not real sure. When I got here Lex was in the tub and babbling nonsense. I got her out and put her to bed. Now she's running a fever and has some kind of bite mark on her hand, it looks kind of infected.” Mac bit her bottom lip hoping she was not making things worse by upsetting Greer with this news.

Greer took a moment to digest the information. “Have you called a doctor?”

“I called Paulie, she's on her way, she should be here in a couple of hours, Marcus is sending her in the jet.”

A vampyre with a private jet Greer thought, how strange. And could vampyre go out in the daytime? Greer was still unclear on exactly what it was to be a vampyre. Shaking these thoughts from her head Greer concentrated on the matter at hand. “I can probably get a flight out tonight Mac. Why didn't you call a doctor there?”

“Because the things Lex deals with are not found in modern medical textbooks. Paulie will know what to do, she always does.” Mac reassured her. “And I don't know if it's a good idea to fly down here. She will probably be all better by tomorrow, why not at least wait until Paulie gets here and tells us what's going on.” Mac listened as Greer struggled with what to do on the other end of the line. “I know you want to be here, but just give it a couple of hours. I promise to call you as soon as Paulie gets here and you can hear everything that's going on. Don't worry Greer, this is Lex, and that old bird is tougher than nails.”

“Call me the minute she gets there.” Greer stated with no room for argument. “And Mac, tell Lexie I love her.” Greer said a little softer.

“Uh, you can tell her that yourself. I'm not cupid you know. The mushy stuff stays between you and the flying squirrel here. Got it?” Mac replied all flustered.

Greer could not help laughing. “Okay Mac. Thanks.”

Mac hung up the phone with a smile. One small disaster diverted, now all she had to do was find out what was wrong with Lex. A thought occurred to her for a moment about calling Lex's parents, but did not think the small bundle in the bed would appreciate that. Besides she did not exactly know how to call upon a couple of Goddesses. So she decided to take her own advice and just wait for the doc to show up.

One and three quarter hours later Teresa showed a completely covered up Paulie into the room. Mac jumped up from the bed and rushed over to the small brunette and wrapped her in a bear hug. “Paulie, thanks for coming.” She looked down at the woman who had yet to remove any of her outer coverings. “Oh shit, the sun.” Mac raced to the windows and pulled the shutters closed then drew the heavy curtains casting the room into darkness. Teresa turned on the bedside lamp and looked at Mac as if she had lost her mind. “She's allergic to the sun Teresa, a very rare condition.” Mac explained.

“Oh…” Teresa said as she began to back out the door. “Well, I leave you, you need anything call, I go downstairs.”

As soon as the direct sunlight had been eliminated from the room Paulie removed her sunglasses and hat. She pulled off gloves, a scarf, a long coat and a head covering. Throwing all of it aside she gave Mac a big smile. “How you doing stretch?”

“Am I glad to see you. I don't know what else to do.” Mac said as she moved over to the bed and looked down at Lexie's shivering form.

Paulie began removing the covers so she could get a good look at her patient. “Do you know what happened?”

Mac shook her head. “All I know is she left yesterday to deal with a dragon in the Ukraine and then I got a call from her today asking me to come over, she sounded like shit so I came right away. She was in the tub and mumbling. I took her out and put her into bed, her hand looks bad though.”

Paulie was already examining the swollen hand. She had Mac bring her bag over and set it up on a chair next to the bed. “Lexie, Lexie love can you hear me?” Sweat was still pouring off Lexie and her sheets were soaking wet. Paulie pulled her up to check her back then laid her back down. “We need to get her out of these wet sheets. Can you lift her while I strip the bed, wait call that other woman back, we're going to need her help.” While Mac called down the stairs to Teresa, Paulie lifted Lexie's eyelids to look at her eyes. “Lexie what the hell have you've gotten into now?” She whispered as the other two entered the room.

Teresa carried a stack of fresh linens in and placed them on the bench at the foot of the bed. Mac wrapped another towel around Lexie then lifted her off the bed. She held the small shaking body while the two women worked quickly to change the sheets. As soon as it was ready Mac placed Lexie back into the clean bed then tucked the covers around her.

Digging into her bag Paulie pulled a small box out and handed it to Teresa requesting her to make a tea out of the roots inside. When the woman gave her a questioning look Paulie told her that sometime old-fashioned remedies were the best. Teresa gave an approving nod and hurried off to the kitchen.

“What did you give her?” Mac asked.

“Oh just something to help with the fever, it can't hurt and it might help. Besides this way she feels like she's helping.” Paulie explained as she began examining Lexie's hand again.

Lexie began mumbling again and Paulie ran a cool hand across her forehead. “Lexie, love, its Paulie. I need to know what happened to you.” She held the small face as Lexie struggled against her. “Lexie what bit your hand?”

“Mmmmm” Lexie muttered.

“One more time, I didn't understand you.” Paulie coaxed.

“Mmm…mma…mmmamuna.” Lexie finally managed to get out.

Paulie sat for a moment scowling at her patient. “Lexie, damn it.” She exclaimed as she stood up to dig in her bag. “You let a farie bite you! I thought you had better sense then that.” Mac's eyes grew to the size of saucers as the feisty doctor pulled a huge syringe and needle out of her bag. “Of all the stupid things.” Paulie continued to pull bags of fluids out of her bag and a sharp looking scalpel.

“Ugh, what's that for?” Mac asked uncertain of what was going on.

“Well,” Paulie explained as she began prepping her supplies. “Our friend here let herself get bitten by a farie and those little buggers have one hell of a nasty bite. If it had been you or me.” Paulie paused and looked at Mac. “Well, you, it could be very serious. So now I'm going to have to lance the wound and drain out the infection. We'll have to wash it out every hour with saline. I can make a poultice that will need to be reapplied after every cleansing and a clean bandage wrapped around it. The tea will help with the fever.” Paulie looked up at the doubtful face looking back at her. “Faries are creatures of nature, so natural remedies work best. She'll be fine, but it's going to take a few days to get out of her system.”

Breathing a sigh of relief Mac went to get some more towels for Paulie. She left the doctor on her own and went downstairs to get the tea. While out of the room Mac called Greer. She let Teresa know the doc was working on Lexie's hand and that she would take the tea back up when she came back in. Stepping outside she hit the speed dial number on Lexie's phone.

After only one ring Greer picked up. “Mac, is she alright?”

“She's fine Greer, or at least she will be. Paulie is working on her right now. I'm sorry I didn't call sooner, but Paulie can be a force of nature at times.”

“That's okay, I seem to remember that about her. So what's wrong with Lexie?”

“Apparently she was bitten by a farie and now she has a bad infection, but Paulie said it should be out of her system in a few days.”

Greer breathed a heavy sigh and let her shoulders slump with the release of tension. “Oh thank you.” Then she thought about what Mac had said. “I'm sorry, did you say farie?”

“That's right, apparently you don't want to ever get bitten by one. Little creatures, big bad.”

“Do you find this as strange of a conversation to be having as I do?”

“You get used to it. But it is weird, yes. I can't wait to find out what the dragons were like.” Mac said as if she were talking about puppies. There was a pause on the line and Mac knew Greer was having a difficult time. “Listen Greer I know you want to be here, but Lex is going to be fine, she will to be doing nothing but sleeping for the next couple of days. That's how she heals. I promise you I will have her call you the moment she wakes up. I'm not sure she would want you just sitting around watching her sleep.”

“I know you're right, it's just hard not being there when she's sick or hurt. This is just going to take some getting use to.” Greer knew she could not just drop everything to go sit by Lexie's side even though that was exactly where she wanted to be.

“Don't worry, you'll have plenty of chances to get use to it. Things like this happen to Lex a lot.”

“Thanks Mac! You really know how to make a girl feel better.” Greer smiled knowing that was exactly what Mac was doing.

“Well, I better get back up there with Lex's tea. I'll let you know the second anything changes.” Mac said as she went back inside.

“Thank you Mac, and please tell Paulie thank you for me.” Greer hung up and collapsed back onto her bed. It could possibly be another day or two before she would be able to speak with Lexie. And wasn't Lexie's show supposed to open tomorrow night? It was going to be a long couple of days.

Upstairs Paulie was forcing small sips of tea down Lexie's throat. Teresa had brought it up while Mac was outside. The Italian woman watched as the small doctor cut and drained the infection from Lexie's hand, she did not flinch once and held out a plastic trash bag for the doc to put the soiled towels in when she had finished. Once the procedure was over and Paulie was dressing the injured hand, Teresa went back to her kitchen secure in the knowledge that Lexie was being taken care of.



The next night was the shows first performance in front of an audience and much to the disappointment of the cast the show opened without Lexie. They were scheduled for a three week run in Venice , then on to Rome . Lexie had been injured on Wednesday, the show previewed on Thursday and the official opening was on Friday. Mac had her hands full getting everyone ready for a show without their leader while Paulie stayed with her patient. By Friday afternoon when Greer had still not heard from anyone she threw some clothes in a bag and caught the next flight out.

Each night Mac drove out to check on Lexie. Her fever had broken sometime during the performance Friday night and by the time Mac arrived Paulie and Teresa were trying to put a clean set of sheets on the bed. Walking into Lexie's room Mac could not help but grin at the sight of the small doctor trying to hold an unconscious Lexie up while the housekeeper was trying to strip the bed.

Paulie heard Mac the moment she walked in the back door and looked up at the tall lanky Scot. “Well don't just stand there woman, give us a hand.”

Seeing Teresa glare at her, Mac felt thoroughly chastised. She hurried over and scooped Lexie up into her arms, holding her while the other two women changed the bed. Once Teresa gathered up the damp linens and headed back downstairs Paulie motioned for her to bring Lexie into the bathroom.

“I want to clean her up a little. Her fever finally broke about an hour ago. I'll just put a little warm water in the tub and give her a quick rinse off then I want to put some pajamas on her and get her back in bed.” Paulie said as she ran a small bath.

Mac obediently placed the small body in the warm water and stepped back while Paulie quickly sponged her down. “You do know that Lex sleeps in the nude, I don't even think she owns any pj's.”

“Then find a tee shirt and some exercise pants, something loose and comfortable, I'm tired of looking at her lily white ass.”

In less than a minute Mac was back with an old shirt and some lightweight sweatpants. The thought of lifting Lexie dripping wet out of the tub made Mac wonder why she had never left a change of clothes here at the house. Despite getting soaking wet she gently picked up her friend and held her while Paulie dried her off. “I think dressing her will be easier on the bed.”

Paulie nodded her head in agreement. Grabbing an extra towel she followed Mac back to the bed. Once Lexie had been placed on the clean dry sheets Paulie moved to wrap her damp hair in the clean towel. She looked up at Mac whose wet clothes were sticking to her. “You should get out of those wet things before you catch a cold.”

“It's not that bad, besides I don't have anything to change into.” Mac said as she tried to pull the wet shirt as far away from her skin as possible.

“Don't be a ninny. Grab one of Lexie's oversized shirts and another pair of sweats, you can pretend they're shorts.” Paulie laughed as she began dressing the sleeping Lexie.

Without any better ideas Mac went over to the closet and pulled out some clothes. She threw them on the foot of the bed then began undressing. Paulie had managed to get Lexie's pants on her and was trying to hold the woman up to put a shirt on her when Greer stepped into the doorway. The blonde stopped and raised both eyebrows at the sight before her. Paulie was struggling to get Lexie's arms into a shirt while Mac stood on the other side of the bed in her underwear and a tee shirt.

“Am I interrupting something?” Greer asked as she moved to help Paulie hold Lexie up.

Mac quickly grabbed the pants she had found and started hopping around trying to get them on in record time. The rushed action only caused her to become tangled tripping over her own feet and ending up in a heap on the floor, her entire body turning a bright shade of crimson with embarrassment.

The two women stopped dressing the sleeping Lexie to watch Mac hurl herself around and then land on the floor. Looking down at the red face they both burst out laughing. “Oh Lexie love, even when you're out cold you're more fun to visit than most people I know.” Paulie laughed then gave Greer a warm smile. “It's good to see you dear.”

“I got tired of waiting for a phone call.” Greer glared pointedly in Mac's direction. “So I thought I'd come see for myself just how our girl's doing.” With the shirt finally on Greer gently lay Lexie's head on the pillow. She removed the towel and lightly rubbed at the damp hair. “So how is she Paulie?”

Mac managed to get herself off the floor and dressed all in one movement. “I was just going to call you.”

Paulie ignored the flustered woman as she watched Greer tuck the blankets up around Lexie's chin. “Her fever broke earlier this evening, I think she's going to be just fine in a couple of days, she'll sleep through the whole thing as usual. I do need to change her bandage though.”

Stepping back Greer allowed the doctor to do her work. She walked around the bed and gave Mac a hug then went back to watching everything Paulie was doing. “Thanks Mac, I don't know what Lexie would do without you.”

“Oh, she's fine, it would just take her a lot longer to get better, that's all. Freaking little monkey can get into more trouble than anyone I've ever met.” Mac snorted then bent down to pick up her wet clothes, ducking her head so no one would see her blush again.

Paulie finished cleaning and bandaging the hand and put her supplies away. She aimed a seductive smile at the tall woman who looked absurd in Lexie's clothes. “Come on you, lets go get those clothes dry, and I could stand for a bite to eat.” She slid her arm into Mac's as the taller woman approached her. “If you need anything Greer just give a call, we'll be downstairs.” Paulie guided Mac out of the room, giving Greer the privacy she knew the woman needed.

“Thanks Paulie.” Greer called after the efficient doctor as she walked out the door. Alone now, she just stood and stared at the woman she loved. The temptation was too much and soon she was kicking off her shoes and crawling into bed to lie next to the sleeping body. It was so strange to see the strong and confident Lexie lying there pale and vulnerable. “Oh Lex, you are going to be the worry of me aren't you?” She shifted so that Lexie's head rested on her shoulder and with one arm around the slender waist and the other around a petit shoulder Greer was able to drift off to sleep for the first time in fifty-seven hours.



For the next thirty-six hours Greer and Paulie kept each other company while Lexie slept and Mac continued to run the show solo. A bowl of fruit and several bottles of water were placed beside Lexie's bed in case she woke up when no one was with her. And Greer set up a small workstation in the sitting area by the window so she could both work and watch Lexie sleep.

By Sunday night most of the color had returned to Lexie's complexion. Her hand still showed signs of infection, but it no longer needed to be drained. And so feeling a bit more relived Greer and Paulie were sitting near the window deeply involved in a game of chess and therefore did not notice when Lexie's eyelids fluttered open.

Not willing to move Lexie took a few deep breaths then glanced around. The room was mostly dark except for the lamp in the sitting area and no noise could be heard anywhere in the house. No noise except to Lexie's sensitive ears, she could hear the soft sound of two people breathing. Shifting her eyes Lexie smiled at the sight, for there in the softly illuminated light she found a most comforting scene. Near the window, heads bent in concentration were her oldest friend and her lover. They were so engrossed in their competition that they had not noticed her, but as she started to lift her hand to reach for a bottle of water she was reminded that hers was not the only sensitive hearing.

“Don't you go guzzling that down, you'll only make yourself sick” Paulie said sternly never taking her eyes off the game board.

Greer's head jerked up at the sudden demand. Looking at Paulie who had yet to move she looked around to see Lexie picking up a bottle. The grin that broke out over her face could have lit up the entire room. In an instant she was out of her chair and by Lexie's side. “Hey you, how're you feeling?” She sat on the side of the bed, careful not to jostle Lexie too much.

Draining half the bottle Lexie smiled up at Greer. “I'm perfect now.” Giving a little tug at the blonde's shirt, she placed a loving kiss on the lips that were lowered to meet her. As Greer sat back up Lexie downed the other half of the water bottle. “Hello Pauline.” She said to the woman who had finally come to stand beside Greer.

“I told you not to guzzle that, you're not a camel.” Paulie tried to keep a stern look on her face, but the twinkle in her eyes told Lexie her friend was very glad to see her.

“Oh shut up woman and hand me one of those bananas.”

Narrowing her eyes at the order Paulie did as she was told. She and Lexie had been bantering like this for as long as they had known each other and she took it as a good sign, Lexie was just about back to her old self. Peeling the skin back halfway she handed the banana to Lexie. “Seriously how are you feeling?”

A fresh water bottle in hand, Lexie scooted up to a sitting position and took the offered fruit. “Not bad, got a wicked headache and my hand is sore, but other than that…” Lexie frowned as she crammed half the banana in her mouth.

“What, what is it? Is something else wrong?” Greer asked, her voice full of concern.

Lexie looked from Greer to Paulie and back to Greer again with an impish looking grimace on her face. “I really could use a huge bowl of Teresa's pasta.” When Greer let out the breath she was holding Lexie looked apologetic. “I'm sorry, but I'm starving.”

Paulie plucked the empty banana skin and water bottle from Lexie's hands. “Alright you, stop scaring the girl. I'll go down and see what I can put together, that woman has been cooking day and night since I got here, there must be enough food down there for an army. And you love,” Paulie turned her attention to Greer, “make sure she at least brushes her teeth before coming down stairs. Even the almighty Lexie can't overcome morning breath.” Turning on her heel Paulie headed out the door before any smart remarks could be hurled in her direction.

Greer was trying not to laugh, rather unsuccessfully, as she leaned in for another kiss. “I think I'll brave it for another one of these.” She giggled before capturing the soft lips.

After breaking apart Lexie rested her good hand on Greer's arm. “How did I get so lucky to find someone so brave?” She leaned in and stole another kiss. “But I think the bathroom is not such a bad idea right now.” Greer stood to allow Lexie room to get out of bed. “Wait for me?” The smaller woman asked as she padded away to scrub some of the sleep off her face.

Greer smiled and nodded as she watched Lexie go. Everything was all right once again. After days of waiting, Greer watched Lexie wake up like nothing had happened. Having this woman in her life was definitely different from anything she had ever known and required adjusting to, but Greer knew that no matter how long they would be together she would always worry. She walked back over to the chessboard to see if Paulie had made a move after she left the table. To her utter disbelief and disappointment she saw where she had been checkmated. It was the third game they had played and she had yet to beat the Englishwoman.

She was still standing there when Lexie exited the bathroom. Seeing the scowl on Greer's face Lexie smiled knowing what had happened. “Never get into a chess match with Paulie.” Lexie smiled as she took Greer's hand in hers. “She's one of the best players I've ever gone against, and she's had a long time to get good at it. Even I have a hard time beating her.” Lexie tugged on the hand in hers as they walked out of the bedroom. “I can only beat her if she's distracted. I find getting naked usually helps.”

Greer raised an eyebrow at her lover. Lexie grinned and shrugged. Shaking her head Greer laughed at just how much her life was changing. Only a few months ago that statement would have angered her coming from a girlfriend. Now, it seemed somehow appropriate given it came from Lexie.

The late night dinner party continued into the night after Mac arrived. It was decided that Paulie would take the plane back to Paris in the morning and Lexie would drop Greer off at her office. After a great deal of arguing, Lexie agreed not to perform until Tuesday night, giving her another night to recover. Paulie felt like she had won a great victory until she found out the company was always dark on Mondays.



The show had a successful opening in Venice , which caused ticket sales to soar. Some venues were already sold out before they left and the later dates on the tour would sell before the company ever got to town. For the first time in longer than Lexie could remember life was going along perfectly, but instead of accepting it for the gift that it was, she worried and waited for disaster to strike.

While the company was performing in Rome a Cynocephali surfaced in India and had gone on a killing spree. While most shape shifters lived peaceful lives, blending in with their communities or living a less noticeable life in rural areas, some could not control their animal side and gave in to the desire to hunt. This particular shifter left an easy to follow bloody trail and was quickly taken care of. Lexie was in and out in a day without missing a single show.

Having missed opening night herself, Lexie invited her parents to their closing night in Rome . She brought Greer down and the four women made a family weekend of it. The last performance was on a Saturday night and while her crew packed up and moved them on to Genoa , Lexie spent a relaxing Sunday with her lover and her parents taking in some of the museums.

Touring museums with three people who actually knew the displayed items when they were not antiques was a strange experience for Greer. Listening to Athena describe what it was like to pose for one particular statue made the day just a tad surreal. It was not until Lexie came across a handwritten book that had been hers while in the employ of the Medici that it hit Greer. Even if she spent the rest of her life with this woman, it would only be a brief period for Lexie. The thought of Lexie going on and loving someone else long after Greer was dead, and it had better be long after, suddenly made Greer feel lonely.

The weekend had been perfect and Greer tried not to think about what a small part of Lexie's life she was. Instead she concentrated on how much Lexie still loved Inessa and she decided that if she were to be a footnote in Lexie's life she would do her best to be a lovingly remembered footnote.

Over dinner Greer was entertained with story after story of Lexie as a little girl. And just as she had imagined, Lexie had been a high spirited and mischievous child, always getting into trouble whether she meant to or not. It seemed the Gods on Olympus were kept on their toes when Lexie was in residence.

Both Artemis and Athena were very proud of their daughter. And despite their playful banter and sometimes cool indifference, their love for Lexie was evident with every look and gesture. By the end of the weekend Greer felt as though she had been welcomed into the family. Before, she had been more than a little intimidated by the two women, after all they were Goddesses, but after spending the last two days with them she felt completely comfortable.

Sipping her coffee and sitting across from Artemis and Athena, Greer got lost in her own thoughts about Lexie and exactly who she was. It did not take long for Lexie to notice Greer had drifted away from the conversation.

Leaning into the blonde's side Lexie whispered. “You still with us?”

Greer looked up into bright blue eyes and smiled. “Just thinking.”

“About what?” Lexie reached up to brush away a strand of hair that had slipped down to partially hide one green eye. “What has you so quiet all of a sudden.”

Greer looked over at the two goddesses who exuded authority even in this relaxed atmosphere. The question on Greer's mind kept pushing forward and there seemed like no better time to get an answer to something that was a nagging puzzlement to her. Looking at her girlfriend she asked. “Are you a Goddess? Because I don't remember reading about you in the roll call for the pantheon.”

The question took Lexie a little bit by surprise and she sat stunned for a moment before shaking her head no.

“But your parents.” Greer said motioning to the women across from her. “I don't mean to be naive, but if your parents are Goddesses, what does that make you?”

Before Lexie could respond Athena spoke up. “The same as us, as all of her family.” Athena gave Greer a gentle smile. “Lexie is an immortal just like us. Goddess is just a title given to us by men looking for a way to explain our existence. When Lexie was born we kept it very quiet, only a few family members knew about her. She was a gift, a child born of two mothers; this was unheard of so we chose silence over celebration because at the time there were those who would have sought to destroy her. She was never known to man the way we are. At the time we struggled with our decision, but considering how things turned out, I think we made the right choice.”

“So Goddess is your job, just like Protector is Lexie's.”

Athena's head wobbled a little making it unclear if she agreed. “When Lexie was old enough we were going to bring her forward and tell the world of our greatest joy, but by then she had already rejected the life of a God, she was four years old.” Athena smiled proudly at her daughter. “It would not have been fair to do that to her, besides she wouldn't let us. Lexie has always wanted life on her own terms.”

Lexie watched Greer with apprehension never knowing when a new piece of information would be too much and she would walk away. Greer looked back at her as if seeing her for the first time and Lexie could not read what lie behind those sparkling green eyes.

“So, you've always been stubborn.” Greer said knowing that for Lexie titles and accolades meant nothing. Her work was what came first and her anonymity in the world allowed her to do her work unimpeded.

“I'm not stubborn, I simply don't have the talent to be a God.” Lexie defended casually, not wanting to rely yet on the power she felt humming inside her.

“You are stubborn and you have more talent and power then your Mom and I combined.” Artemis spoke in a voice that brooked no argument. “If you would ever accept your potential I believe you would be on par with your grandmother, your place in this world has yet to fully be determined daughter.”

It was an old argument. Her parents trying to get Lexie to accept who she was and Lexie refusing to rely on something she had not worked for. The thought of having the same kind of power that Gaia possessed was overwhelming and Lexie did not want to have this conversation with her parents just yet.

“You know, I really just wanted some tiramisu. Is that too much to ask?” Lexie asked hoping to change the subject.

“Of course not.” Greer jumped in as she waved down a waiter. “I think that's a wonderful idea.” As the waiter approached she quickly ordered dessert for the whole table then took Lexie's hand and held it in her lap. “I don't care who you are or what you can do, as long as you're mine.” She whispered to the smaller woman, sorry she had brought up a sore subject.

“For as long as you'll have me.” Lexie smiled as she pulled the blonde in for a kiss.

Across the table Artemis and Athena continued to watch their daughter. Athena took her wife's hand in her own and smiled at the woman. She had the strongest feeling that this time Lexie had truly found her soulmate. Artemis nodded in agreement, clearly reading the expression on Athena's face.

After dinner Lexie said good-bye to her parents and took Greer back to the hotel she had reserved for them for the weekend. She still had another twenty-four wonderful hours with this woman and Lexie intended to spend every one of them in Greer's arms.

Unbeknown to The Protector was another person who had been keeping a close watch on her and Greer. A very close watch indeed, especially after having passed out for three days from the energy released in Greece the night, nights, when Lexie and Greer finally got together.



Six nights a week and twice on Saturday and Sunday Mac found herself in the most intense four minutes any person could ever experience. On stage in front of hundreds of people she deflected blows and tried to anticipate Lexie's every move. And because each performance of their little swordfight was not choreographed or planned in any way, Mac found herself becoming a force to be reckoned with. And of course there was the side benefit of having women throwing themselves at her on a nightly basis.

By the time the company reached Monte-Carlo both Mac and Lexie were feeling a bit stretched thin by their late night activities on top of their already busy jobs. So Lexie decided to have a meeting with Mac, Greer and herself. She had Greer fly down for a long weekend and rented a boat for the three of them to go sailing.

“Now this is the life.” Mac stated as she closed her eyes and stretched out in her bikini on the deck of the forty-two foot Cheetah. Lexie was at the helm and they had sailed out past the seawall to leisurely float around the Cote d'Azur .

Once they were far enough away from the busier traffic along the coast, Lexie cut the engine and helped Greer lay out the spread she brought for their lunch. “You know I can't remember the last time I did something like this on our day off.” Lexie smiled as Greer handed her a glass of wine. In only a bikini top and shorts she leaned with one hand propping her up and enjoyed the feel of the sun on her skin.

“Well I think it's a wonderful idea and I'm glad to see you relaxing for once.” Greer piled some food on a plate then lightly smacked Mac on the thigh. “Your lunch sleeping beauty.” She smiled at the scowl that was aimed in her direction as she handed over the plate. “Mac I think you might need some more sunscreen, your fair skin is going to burn in this sun.”

“Fair skin!” Lexie laughed as she squinted at the amount of exposed skin. “More like a blinding white beacon. Pale does not even begin to describe that complexion. That's it my friend no more spending all your days in a dark theatre. You've got to get outside more.”

Mac just glared at Lexie as she chewed on a baguette with some kind of cheesy spread. “This coming from a woman who sees less sun than a vampyre.” Mac quipped, then turned to Greer with a softer expression. “This is amazing, where did you get it?” She said ignoring Lexie and indicating the bread she was shoving in her mouth.

“Okay, both of you as soon as I finish eating are getting completely rubbed down with sunscreen.” Greer said as she picked up her plate.

The biggest grin Lexie had ever seen was on Mac's face. “Don't get any ideas there lighthouse. And what about you?” Lexie asked looking over Greer's lovely body and how well it filled out the two-piece bathing suit she was wearing. “You may be Greek, but you've been up north so long that even your natural tan is a bit light.”

“Fine, we'll just have a round robin rub down.” Greer said as she fed Lexie one of her olives, remembering a night not too long ago when the action had been reversed.

The action was not lost on Lexie and she flushed at the memory as well and kissed the long fingers as thanks for the morsel and the memory.

Lunch was a lazy affair and could have taken all afternoon except for Greer's instance that they were all in need of additional protection. And much to Lexie's surprise it was almost as much fun watching Greer spread the silky lotion into Mac's skin, as it was to have her do the same to her own. The only thing better was when she got the chance to then rub lotion over Greer's entire body.

The warmth of the sun and gentle breeze from the sea combined with the gently tossing waves to lull each one into a state of complete bliss. From beneath a wide brimmed sailing hat Lexie watched her companions completely relax. Mac was almost asleep stretched out in the sun and Greer sat amidst a pile of pillows reading a book. Lexie herself could feel the pull of sleep as she lounged in the two-piece sling chair.

Before sleep completely took her, Lexie broke the silence. “Hey you guys, I've been thinking about something and wanted to run it by you.” Greer used a finger to mark the place in her book then gave Lexie her attention. Mac simply opened one eye and looked at the small woman then closed it again, her way of letting Lexie know she was listening. “Greer, you know my work can be dangerous at times and Mac can tell you that it's not always out there waiting for me. Sometimes the job finds me before I can find the job. Mac and I have fought side by side on several occasions. And over the years her skill with a sword has become on a level close to mine.”

“Ha!” Mac guffawed. “I run my ass off every night just so I don't end up sushi.”

“Yes, but you don't end up sushi. In fact this last week I was sweating out there.” Mac just gave Lexie an disbelieving grimace without opening her eyes. “My point is you're good Mac. And Greer I know you've had years of instruction, but I was hoping we could train you. There's a lot of big bad out there and I want to know you can defend yourself if I'm not there.” Lexie took a breath and waited to see what type of reaction she would get.

This was a subject Greer had wanted to discuss with Lexie, but was never sure when the right moment would be. She blinked at Lexie and then Mac, who had sat up enough to rest back on her elbows. “I've been wanting to ask you about this, but just wasn't sure how you would react. I would love for you to teach me.”

“Mac, this involves you as well. I'll teach Greer, but a lot of her training will be with you and when you say she's ready the three of us will train together.”

Unsure if something was coming that was so bad it had Lexie worried, Mac raised an eyebrow at her friend. Lexie gave the intuitive Scot a shake of her head and a small smile.

“I will never leave the people I care about unprepared ever again.”

Nodding in understanding Mac smiled and laid back down closing her eyes. “Getting all hot and sweaty with Greer, sounds like a good time to me.”

Greer just laughed at the eye roll Lexie gave Mac. “I can't wait. So how are we going to do this?”

“I can drill you in the mornings and then two or three times a week we'll find a time in your schedule to come and work with Mac.”

“I can make a standing appointment every day if you like.” Greer offered a little too eagerly as Mac cleared her throat objectionably.

“I think we'll start with just a couple of times a week. Even Mac deserves a day off. And once you become accustomed to it we can add more time.”

“Lexie, I've been doing martial arts for almost fifteen years. I think I can handle a couple of workouts a week.”

Mac barked out a laugh then went back to her seemingly perfect slumber. Lexie crawled over to where Greer sat and kissed the surprised face. “We don't exactly do things by the book. And while I selfishly hope it doesn't happen, your first couple of sessions you will probably be a little sore.”

Greer raised an eyebrow at the impish little face in front of her. “I'll have you know I am not just a paper pusher, I work out, so bring it on.”

“Oh I know you work out, believe me the physical evidence does not lie.” Lexie said eyeing the well-toned body before lavishing the woman with a searing kiss. “We'll start first thing in the morning.” Placing another kiss upon the smiling lips Lexie scooted back to her seat and stretched out again. She kept eye contact with Greer for a while before closing her eyes and tilting her face up to soak in the sun.



Each morning of the next week was spent in the studio while Lexie put Greer through her paces. She needed to see what level of skill Greer had before she could hand her over to Mac. It did not take long to see that the first-degree black belt Greer held had been well earned. Also the years as a champion fencer in college added grace and form to Greer's style. All that was well and good and gave Lexie a solid place to start. Now she needed to teach Greer to fight for her life and not a trophy.

By the end of the first week, much to her surprise, Greer found herself a little sore. She had thought herself to be in good shape physically, but when faced with Lexie's relentless drive she was beginning to get an idea of what physically fit truly meant. Therefore she was happy to spend her mornings working with Lexie and working out with Mac only twice a week. And for the first time that Mac could remember Lexie actually took Mondays off, renting the Cheetah and taking the three of them out to relax and swim in the Mediterranean.

By the time the company's three week engagement in Monte Carlo was up Mac had managed to get something that was beginning to resemble a tan and Greer was ready to up her workouts to three times a week.

Three weeks in Marseille and two in Toulouse went by without incident. And as they loaded into the theatre in Barcelona that was to be their home for the next four weeks Lexie felt like she was living a pretty normal life. Except she would work all day where ever the show was performing then spend most nights in Amsterdam with Greer, workout in the mornings with her then head back to the show. Lexie could accept that as normal.

Barcelona was one of Lexie's favorite places. She thrived on the energy of the city and the passion for life that its inhabitants had. Wandering around the city Lexie never got tired of looking at the art and architecture. And the explosion of new cuisine made the place perfect for a food lover like her. She could not wait to show Greer the Barcelona she knew, off the tourist path and into the heart of the city and down hidden side streets where the best eateries could be found.

Opening night in a new city was always exciting for the cast. Since the show performed internationally they got to experience new cultures, new cuisines and new people. Eager to present their very best, opening night played out in high spirits and the audience enjoyed a perfectly flawless show. After the curtain came down and everyone was collecting their costumes and props to be stored for the night, Lexie got a prickly feeling as she dropped her costumes in the laundry cart. The sound of a deep voice clearing behind her caused her to freeze. Turning she was surprised to find Hades and Percy standing there. As usual she could not read the expression on Hades face, but Percy was grinning from ear to ear as she stepped forward and wrapped the small woman in a hug.

“Oh Lex, that was a fantastic show.” Percy enthused as she held onto the small sweaty body. All of a sudden Lexie felt a smack on the arm. “And that's for scarring the shit out of me twice.” Percy admonished as she moved back to Hades side.

“Uncle, I hope you don't show your appreciation with physical violence.” Lexie said as she rubbed her arm.

“Lexie,” Hades deep voice rumbled in a soothing way. “That was quite a show. You've done a great job at putting together so many talented people.”

Lexie raised her eyebrows in surprise, coming from Hades that was a high complement indeed. “What are you two doing here? If I had known you were in town I could have gotten you tickets.”

“Oh we're in Majorca for a few days and decided to pop over and catch the show.” Percy smiled as she wrapped an arm around her husbands elbow.

One eyebrow went up as Lexie scrutinized the both of them. “This show has been sold out for weeks, how did you get tickets?”

“Percy has been planning this since you were last a guest of ours.” Hades said dispassionately, referring to the incident with Larice.

Lexie and Percy looked at each other and shared a smile. “Well, I'm glad you came.” Looking up at her uncle Lexie grinned. “Hope you don't think I'm doing too much to sully the family name.”

“I'm afraid you'd have competition from Ares on that one.”

Shocked by the dry humor Lexie just stared at Hades unable to come back with a retort until Mac walked up to see who the strangers were on her stage.

“Hey Lex, what's going on?” Mac asked as she appreciatively eyed Percy.

Lexie turned to see Mac eyeing her aunt and muttered to herself. “Oh, Mac don't do that.” She took the sword out of Mac's hands and introduced her to her relatives. “Mac, this is my Uncle Haden and Aunt Percy, they saw the show tonight.”

“Glad to meet you.” Mac said as she reached out to shake hands with Hades and then Percy. Smiling at the dark eyed beauty it suddenly occurred to her who she was. “Percy? Persephone?” As the dark head nodded Mac continued to hold her hand. “Paulie told me all about you.” She gave the woman her most charming smile before turning her attention to the man by her side. “So that would make you…” Mac faltered for a moment as she realized whom she was talking to. “Hades.” Hades nodded at her and looked down at the hand that was still holding his wife's. Mac quickly let go and took a step closer to Lexie. “Pleasure to meet you sir.”

Watching the interchange Lexie almost wanted to laugh at her friend's discomfort. “Why is it you give everyone in my family respect except me?”

“Exactly how much respect am I suppose to show a flying squirrel?” Mac could not help the quip that so easily slipped from her tongue by force of habit. Realizing she had just insulted the God of the Underworld's niece she looked up into the dark eyes and began stumbling over her words. “It's not that I don't, I mean, it's just that she can be…”

“An annoying pain in the ass.” Hades filled in for her.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Mac suddenly felt she had found a sympathetic ear. “Exactly.” She emphasized with her hands and then smirked down at Lexie.

“Lexie, Percy and I would like to take you to dinner. We have a car outside, but would you mind showering first, I would like to enjoy the meal.”

It was not an invitation Lexie could refuse and she knew it. When Hades asked you to dinner, you simply went. “Give me ten minutes and I'll be ready. I'll see you tomorrow Mac.” She handed the tall woman her sword back and headed for the back door.

Without realizing how much of a comfort Lexie's presence had been, Mac shuffled uncomfortably before the Gods. “I really should get this place tidied up, I hope you enjoyed the show.”

Before the tall woman could run off Percy smiled and reached out to place a hand on her arm. “Mac, you're doing a great job. Lexie's lucky to have you.”

Unsure what to say Mac just stared unsure at the woman until Hades caught her eye. He gave Mac a single nod then escorted his wife outside to wait for Lexie. Three dim work lights illuminated the backstage area making it difficult for Mac to follow the path of the two retreating bodies. And she was still standing there when Kara walked up to her. When the tall Scot did not move or acknowledge her, Kara tried to see what Mac was starring at.

“You okay Mac? You look like you've just seen a ghost.”

Mac slowly shook her head. “Not a ghost.”

“We're heading down to the Bull, why don't you join us?” Kara knew it was one of Mac's favorite bars so she was likely to tag along. Adjusting the costumes in her arms she made her way upstairs to get ready.

Mac remained where she was and still peered into the dark. “Aw hell.” She muttered before walking over to the case that was used to store the swords. Shaking off the feeling of doom at meeting the Lord of the Underworld Mac sighed. ‘Well if I wind up down there' she thought, ‘at least there's eye candy.'



Three weeks into the Barcelona show, Lexie was standing backstage talking with Becks and Jason, one of her stagehands. The show was about to begin and they were waiting for the audience to finish taking its seat when Lexie suddenly felt a tingling sensation on the back of her neck. It was not very strong and represented no danger, but someone had come to watch the show and they were radiating magic.

All through the show Lexie concentrated on her performance while also keeping a feeler out in case the magic should turn dark. It was not until she was high in the rafters and hidden in the shadows that she could afford a moment to look out in the audience to try and find the source of the low buzzing energy. Within seconds she zeroed in on a familiar tall woman with eyes so light blue it was like looking into the crystal clear depths of a glacier and those eyes were starring right back at her. Neither blinked for a solid moment and then the tall woman quirked a smile at Lexie and twitched her eyebrows. Lexie smiled back as the light blue eyes went back to watching the show.

After the show Lexie waited for the house to clear then walked out on stage to greet her old friend who was still sitting in the same seat waiting for her. Walking to the edge of the stage Lexie sat and let her feet dangle over the edge. The house was empty except for the single audience member and a few ushers checking the rows and cleaning away any trash left behind.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this unexpected visit?”

The dark haired woman unfolded herself out of the theatre seat and stood. “I heard there was a really incredible show in town and I thought I would catch it, but I couldn't get tickets so I wound up here instead.” Stretching, loud pops could be heard as her cramped frame pushed itself back into place. Walking to the stage she accepted the hand Lexie offered and easily stepped up the four feet onto the stage.

Lexie was use to Mac's tall frame, but at six-four, this woman towered over her four-eleven height. And she had the nerve to ware heels. Nonetheless she pulled the tall body into a tight hug. “It's good to see you Bron.”

“You too Lexie.” The woman said as she stepped back to get a good look at her small friend. “It's been far too long.”

Craning her head back, Lexie smiled affectionately. “Yes it has. So what brings an elf of the high council to Barcelona ?”

“Hydroponics convention.” Bron laughed. “Nothing but thrills and excitement fill my days. Unlike you I see. Exactly when did you become a circus performer?”

“I own this circus I'll have you know.” Wrapping an arm through the crook of the taller woman's elbow she guided them backstage. She desperately needed a shower and having them both sitting would at least take the crick out of her neck that was developing. Before they could reach the backstage door Mac called her name and stepped out from the dark backstage area. She paused at seeing the stranger with Lexie, but since they were arm in arm and smiling, Mac knew this must be another person from Lexie's past she had yet to meet. As she approached the two Mac could not take her eyes off the beautiful stranger. Not only was she the most beautiful woman she had ever seen in her life, she was actually taller than the lanky company manager, a feature she rarely found in another woman.

“Mac, I'd like you to meet Bronwyn. Bron this is Mac, my all around most indispensable person on the planet and co-owner of this little circus.”

Holding out a hand Bron gave Mac a smile that rendered her speechless. “It's a pleasure to meet you Mac. I don't think I've ever heard Lexie give someone such high praise. You must truly be something extraordinary.”

Mac clasped the long slim fingers in her own calloused hand and struggled to find her voice. “Bronwyn, what a beautiful name.” Long after she had spoken Mac was still holding the other woman's hand.

Noticing the two had not moved or let go of each others hand Lexie grinned. “Excellent. Mac, come on I need you to entertain Bron while I take a shower. You up for dinner Bron?”

“That depends, Mac would you be joining us?”

“It would be my pleasure Bronwyn.” Mac smiled and released the soft hand.

Now it was Lexie that found herself speechless. Mac was being polite and courteous. Lexie shook her head and led them out back to her trailer; it had to be the elf magic that encircled Bron like a fog. While the two of them talked, Lexie called Greer to let her know she would be late and then took a quick shower. Twenty minutes later they were being served their entrees at one of the most mouth-watering restaurants in town, a little three table hole in the wall where everything was cooked to order by the owner himself.

“Lexie you really have been keeping busy these last few years. But then again you have never been one to just sit around.” Bron said as she sipped her wine.

“Excuse me, but I do remember getting more than one visit from Trahaearn wanting to know if I knew where his daughter was or what she was up to. How is your father by the way?”

“Daddy's fine, he'll be happy to know I ran into you. I know he would love to see the calm and responsible person you've turned into.” Bron smirked.

“Ha! Calm, Lex? I'd hate to see you lie to your father like that.” Mac said as she eyed the small woman across from her. “She's like a walking tornado that one.”

“Oh I don't know, the Lexie I use to know could not stay at the helm of a company like Nightshadows for fifteen years. Two or three at the most and then she would have moved on. You must be mellowing in your old age Lexie. You were a real hellion when you were younger.” Bron's laughter was like the sound of silver bells gently playing on the wind.

“Piss me off and you'll see just how much of a hellion I can be,” said Lexie with a twinkle in her eye.

The jibe was a loving one, but it got Mac to thinking. “Exactly how long have you two known each other?”

The tall woman raised an eyebrow at Lexie and when she got a nod in return she devoted her attention to Mac. “I use to change Lexie's nappies.”

Mac's eyes grew large as she took in this new information. “What a horrible job. So are you two related?”

The nonplused reaction was not exactly what Bron was expecting. She took it then that the woman knew about Lexie's identity and was impressed with Mac's ability to take the most outrageous statements as fact. “No, but our families go way back, my father and Lexie's grandfather were close allies during the time of mans emergence as a power in the world. I fought along side Artemis and her Amazons to help keep the presence of strong women in the world until the world of men became too dominant. That's when she asked me to take them into the mist.” Bron paused and gave Lexie a sympathetic smile. “I know you did not understand at the time and it caused a great deal of contention between you and your mother, but it was the right thing to do Lexie. The Amazons are a strong and vital part of my homeland. They have become everything Artemis had set out for them to be. You should come visit them sometime.”

Lexie remembered the huge fight she had with her mother when she sent the Amazons into the mist to live among the elves. At the time she thought they should stay and fight for their rightful place in this world, but her mother could see their complete annihilation if they were to stay. Letting the Amazons go came at a great personal loss to Artemis, which Lexie could not see at the time. Now she was grateful for her mother's wisdom. Because of her mother the Amazons not only survived to this day, but also were an important and intricate part of the elf-lands. Elves were guardians of the land and the Amazons were their protectors.

It had been over a hundred years since Lexie had stepped into the mist and been transported back to a time when the earth was not under constant siege from man. The elves lived in harmony with nature and tried to teach their lessons to man in this world. At times she knew Bron felt like it was a lost cause, but no matter what uphill battle the woman struggled with she never gave up. The elves were a part of the earth and to give up on it would be to give up on themselves.

“So you're older than Lex. How much?” Mac was trying to process everything and was coming up with more questions than answers.

A bark of laughter erupted as Lexie spewed a piece of cauliflower across the table. “Sorry.” She said as she retrieved the errant vegetable and tried not to laugh at Mac's returned to a lack of manners.

“You really don't want to know.” Bron answered with a smug look of defiance.

“Oh, sorry. Is it alright if I ask exactly what you are then?”

Tucking her long dark hair behind one ear Bron smiled. “Why don't you take a guess?”

The motion drew Mac's attention as it was intended to. And revealed a perfectly lovely elongated ear that came to a point at the top. Mac tried to run through all the creatures Lexie had told her about in her mind, but the only thing that kept popping to the surface was Santa's helper. “You're an elf?” Bron's satisfied smile told her she was right. “I thought elves were supposed to be little.”

Untucking the hair from behind her ear Bron could not help but laugh. “That's a fairy tale Mac. I hate to break it to you, but there is no Santa Claus and we don't make toys.” She caught Lexie's eye and was delighted to see the woman was about to die trying not to laugh at her friend. “Perhaps you and I should spend some time together and I could dispel any other myths you might be confused about.”

Without hesitation Mac smiled. “Bronwyn, I am at your disposal.”

Lexie had to excuse herself for a moment before her head exploded. Watching Mac so taken with the elf that she did not shorten her name as she did with every person she met was too cute. Upon her return from the ladies room she paused for a moment to watch her best friend. Never before had she seen Mac so taken with someone, the Scot was completely focused on Bron and did not even notice when Lexie returned.

“Bron, you're not trying to charm my business partner away are you?” Lexie said as she sat down. Clearly Mac was completely enchanted by the elf and could not take her eyes off her.

“I'd say she's a pretty dynamic woman herself. Maybe she's the one doing the charming.” Bron replied as she gave a blushing Mac her best seductive smile.

“Just stay out of the mists and you can do anything you want with her.” The smile Lexie gave Bron let the elf know she would do anything to protect her friend.

The serious undertone that had crept into the conversation had not gone unnoticed by Mac. Years of living with Lexie had taught her to pick up on the subtle changes in her friend's voice, mannerisms and body language; it was a talent that had saved her skin on more than one occasion. Mac glanced back and forth between her two companions and while a serious undercurrent had developed, she felt no danger. “I feel like I'm missing something here.”

“Ever the Protector, that's our Lexie.” Bron smiled trying to reassure the small woman, she had no reason to upset her friend in any way. “Besides, you know that is not an easily won path. Only the chosen are allowed.”

Abductions into the mists had stopped almost two centuries ago, but Lexie still remembered losing friends to the elves. Once a human entered the mists they could never return. The hostilities between the elves and humans had ended so long ago that humans did not remember, and it was written in history as fairy tales. This served to keep the peace among both races. Still, some remembered, and even though Bron was her oldest friend, Lexie could not help her protective instincts from kicking in. She took a deep breath to rein her emotions in; Lexie trusted Bron, and Mac could take care of herself. One look at the Scot told her that while Mac may be taken with the beautiful elf, she had not lost all of her senses.

“I'll leave it up to you to explain the mists, I have a feeling you two might be seeing each other again.” Lexie grinned. “So how long are you in town for?”

Relieved that any tension the smaller woman might have had was gone, Bron leaned back in her seat. “Well I have to meet Pallo in Seville next week and I had planned on going to Madrid until then…” Locking eyes with Mac, Bron smiled once more. “But maybe I'll stick around.”

A look of pure bliss washed over Mac's face and Lexie knew they would indeed be seeing a lot more of Bron over the next week. “Well tell my uncle hello for me when you see him.”

“Uncle?” Mac was intrigued to hear about yet another family member of Lexie's.

“Yeah, Bron runs a PV company with my uncle Apollo.”

“PV? Solar panels?” Mac asked surprised. “Wait you run a solar energy company with the God of Sun?” Rolling her eyes skyward Mac shook her head. “Why am I even surprised?”

“Hey it's one of the few natural resources that man has not found a way of screwing up yet.” Bron smiled. “And if you want to do it right why not go straight to the expert.”

Lexie wasn't sure why it was always so fun for her when Mac was taken off guard. That was something she would have to consider later. For now she was doing her best not to laugh. “Bron runs several companies all devoted to renewable, sustainable and natural resources.”

Mac was once again gazing into the light blue eyes that seemed to sparkle just for her. “I'm all about recycling. I've had to recycle Lex here more times than I can count.”

Bron raised a questioning eyebrow at Lexie, but did not press the issue. The thought that Lexie was still constantly fighting for her people had almost made the elf feel guilty. So many from the old days had settled into new lives, peaceful if not adventurous lives, but not Lexie. From the day this one had been born Bron knew hers would be a hard and difficult life. Not once did Lexie ever shy away from her responsibilities, in fact she went out of her way to find the most difficult road to take. Looking now at the woman Lexie had matured into Bron could see that Lexie had been right to do things her way. She was a fine woman with a strength and integrity that could not be matched by anyone the elf knew and Bron was proud to call her a friend.

“I have to get going Bron, it was great seeing you.” Lexie stood and Bron got up with her, enveloping the smaller woman in a tight embrace. “Play nice, she's special to me.” Lexie whispered in the ancient elfin language.

“Keep yourself out of trouble little one.” Bron replied in the same language before letting go.

Giving Mac a wink, Lexie left the restaurant and made her way back to the theatre. The night was oddly peaceful with couples strolling arm in arm and a few people out walking their dogs. Thoughts of the evening accompanied Lexie as she walked. It felt almost strange seeing Mac so completely taken with Bron. The Scots cocky demeanor had almost completely disappeared in the presence of the elf. Turning a corner into the vacant lot behind the theatre Lexie took two steps before disappearing, one step later she was standing over a sleeping Greer.


The next morning Greer awoke to the comforting rhythm and sound of a heart beating in her ear. She had been using Lexie as a pillow and thrilled at the feeling of warm arms holding her. She opened her eyes and glanced up to see Lexie sound asleep and wondered just when the small woman had gotten in last night. As Greer tried to gently remove herself from Lexie's arms, she felt those arms tighten and a low rumble noise in the chest below her ear told her Lexie was laughing.

“And where do you think you're going?” Lexie smiled as she opened her eyes to see a sleepy face smiling back at her.

“Well I had the idea of brushing my teeth, but if you really like morning breath all that much I could just stay here.” Greer grinned as she stretched up to kiss Lexie good morning.

Lexie deepened the kiss until the need for air became an issue. “Right, I think we could both use a good scrubbing. Don't suppose you'd care to join me for a nice hot shower?”

Raising an eyebrow Greer looked surprised that Lexie was changing their routine. “Before working out?”

“I thought this morning we'd go out to breakfast, take a walk, maybe go for a swim?”

“You mean I don't get any kind of workout at all?”

Lexie quickly rolled over so that she was now on top of Greer. “Oh, I didn't say that.” She pressed down and captured lips that were grinning like a Cheshire cat.

As Lexie began nibbling her way down Greer's neck the blonde purred. “I think I prefer this new workout.”


Later that day Lexie found herself lounging on her rooftop deck gazing out over her neighborhood and wondering just what it was about Greer that even when they were separated she could not stop thinking about the woman. They had known each other less than a year and yet she felt as if Greer were the most important and integral part of her life. Lexie never thought of herself as being incomplete until she met Greer and discovered what it felt like to be whole. She idly turned a small gold ring over and over again in her fingers as she contemplated this thought. There was a question Lexie was dying to ask Greer, but was not sure when would be the right time. Lost in her thoughts she barely registered when a different hot blonde whom she had not seen in months shimmered into existence in the chair beside her.

“Aphie.” Lexie greeted her aunt in a flat tone while continuing to look out over the rooftops.

“Lexie.” Aphie smiled as she made herself comfortable.

“What took you so long?”

Aphie now turned and watched the small woman, knowing her presence was making Lexie uncomfortable. No matter how tough her niece was, the last thing she wanted to talk about was her emotions. Seeing the ring Lexie was toying with sent a small shiver down her spine and she took a deep breath to try and suppress her excitement for the moment. Reaching over Aphie laid a hand on Lexie's arm. “Sweetie you're not the only one I'm looking out for. Besides after that little trip to Greece , very romantic by the way, I couldn't move for a week, I was out cold for three days.” Aphie grinned at the blush that raced up Lexie's neck and covered her face.

“Serves you right for eaves dropping.” Lexie pulled her arm away from the gentle touch, still refusing to look at her aunt.

“I wasn't, the two of you coming together was like the big bang.” Aphie grinned at the unintentional pun. “The wave you sent out into the universe was fierce. Last time I got to ride a wave like that was when your moms got together for the first time. You two are the ultimate harmonic convergence.” Aphie took a deep breath and began fanning herself with her hands.

Lexie looked over at her aunt and raised an eyebrow at the sublime look of pleasure and slight color that had come up on Aphie's cheeks. “You need a moment alone?” Quickly regaining her composure the blonde beamed a radiant smile at Lexie. “So what brings you by today?”

Sitting up straighter and leaning forward, Aphie took Lexie's hand in her own and held tight. “Because you still haven't figured it out. You're sitting here struggling to comprehend what all this means.”

Blue eyes flashed in the blonde's direction. “Stay out of my head Aph.”

“Oh sweetie, it's not your head I feel.” Aphie ran the fingers of her free hand across Lexie's forehead brushing aside strands of hair then letting her hand come to rest on Lexie's chest over her heart. “This is what I feel and when two soulmates finally find each other and come together once again, it's the most amazing feeling there is.”


Aphie nodded her head as she watched the word sink into Lexie's mind. “I know you know all the stories and you've never really believed. Even though your moms are living proof. Lex, love is a complicated thing and yet in its purest form it's the simplest thing in the world. Some people will live their entire lives without finding their soulmate; they can find love, but not their other half. You've known what that's like. And I know it has taken a while, but you finally found it baby.”

Emotions were coursing through Lexie threatening to overwhelm her. Most of the time she found Aphrodite to be a nuisance, she loved her aunt but hated it when she meddled in her love life, even if it was the woman's job. Now here she was telling Lexie that she had stumbled across the same type of love her parents have. She wanted to be angry with Aphie, wanted to threaten her for teasing her with the one thing she had secretly wanted her whole life. The idea both filled Lexie and shattered her at the same time. She knew she loved Greer beyond all possible understanding, but unlike her parents, Greer would only be with her a short time. This thought began pressing down on Lexie.

Aphie could feel every emotion the younger woman was going through and quickly sought to reel Lexie's attention back from an abyss that could possibly send her running. “Lexie, sweetie, look at me.” She gently cupped the trembling chin in her hand and waited for grey eyes to connect with her own. When they finally did she gave them a reassuring smile. “Lex, you have been given a gift and I can't think of anyone who deserves it more than you. It's the reason I'm here.” Lexie blinked a couple of times, she had no clue what Aphie was talking about. “That night in Amsterdam Gaia asked me to keep an eye on you. Apparently when you and Greer met she felt something on a level so deep even I could not feel it. Anyway, she said when you finally figured out and accepted what the universe was giving you, she would make sure you did not lose it.”

Shaking her head in frustration Lexie gave her annoying aunt an imploring look. “Aphie, what the hell are you talking about?”

“Lexie, we have all known you are a special person, you are talented beyond what any of us can comprehend. Except for one. You are only just beginning to tap into your true potential, something you are able to do because for once you are whole. Greer completes you and gives you the strength to accept and become who you are. No one wants to see you lose that, therefore the Great Mother Gaia is offering you this gift; immortality for Greer. If this is what she wants then when you give her that ring and pledge yourself to her it will be for your lifetime and not even Gaia can know how long that will be.” Aphrodite sat holding both of Lexie's shaking hands in her own, she watched light grey eyes fill with tears as the impact of her words sunk in.

“Aph?” Lexie was barely able to speak.

Sliding over to the lounge chair Lexie was still stretched out in, Aphie pulled her niece up so she could cradle her with comfort. “You need to talk to Greer and if this is what she wants, what you both want then I will take you to Gaia, but this has to be Greer's decision.”

Bright blue eyes now looked back at the goddess of love with new respect. “Aphrodite, I don't think people give you enough credit. How did you…”

“My dear Lexie, you may be the Protector, but love is what makes the world go round, it moves man forward and lifts them to unbelievable heights. It is simple enough for a child to master while being the most powerful force in the universe.” Grinning, Aphie gave her favorite niece a kiss on the top of her head. “And don't you forget it.” Wiping the tears from Lexie's cheek she gripped the strong shoulders and forced Lexie to sit upright. “Go talk to your girl, take all the time you need, and what ever you decide, call me.” Aphie stood as if to leave.

“Aphie,” Lexie stood beside her aunt, “thank you. I don't know what Greer will say, but thank you for the choice.” Lexie looked down at the ring in her hand. “And Aph, before all this, there was another question I had been planning to ask Greer. If she says yes, would you perform…”

“I insist.” Aphie giggled before Lexie could finish asking. With a wink she shimmered out of sight.

Left alone with this new information Lexie tried taking several deep breaths to calm her nerves before picking up her phone and calling Greer. After what seemed like an eternity the voice mail on Greer's phone finally picked up. At the sound of the tone Lexie was impressed at how calm her own voice sounded. “Hey it's me, I was wondering if you would like to come over to my place for dinner tonight? I've got the night off so if you want, come over when ever you can. See you later.” Next she hit the speed dial for Mac.

“Hey Lex, what's up?” Mac answered on the second ring.

“Something's come up Mac, I'm not going to make it back tonight, call Bella, tell her to get ready.”

“Yeah I know the drill. Everything okay Lex? You sound a little shaky.”

“I don't know yet, I'll try and call tomorrow, but if not you know what to do.”

“Right, try not to get too many holes in you this time.”

Disconnecting the call Lexie looked once more at the ring she held. She realized there were a few things she needed to do before Greer got there. Mainly getting some edible food in the house. And she should probably clean the sheets on her bed, oh and some fresh flowers would be nice. Rushing back inside Lexie began making a mental list of everything she needed to do in the next few hours.

Less than an hour ago she had been nervous about asking Greer to marry her, now she was going to ask the woman to spend all of eternity with her. A knot firmly lodged itself in her stomach. What if Greer said no? The thought brought her to a complete stop, momentarily paralyzing her. No, she could not think about that, she had too much to do. Heading to her bedroom Lexie threw herself into a whirlwind cleaning spree that allowed her to push all negative thoughts from her mind.



Rush hour traffic had forced Greer to slow her pace getting over to the studio. After meeting with a client about an upcoming litigation she had been delighted to discover Lexie's message and could not wait to get off work, unfortunately scheduled meetings were going to take up her afternoon. The painfully slow drive gave her time to wonder why Lexie had the night off. The company was not moving cities, so she contemplated what Lexie was up to. She parked in one of the carports behind the building and let herself into the studio.

Greer took her time climbing the stairs up to the apartment and just as she was about to knock the door swung open reveling a smiling Lexie. She quickly found herself wrapped in strong arms and was being thoroughly kissed all while Lexie relieved her of her briefcase and computer bag.

Pulling back only enough to look down into bright blue eyes Greer purred. “Now that's the way a person should be greeted at the end of the day.”

“I can see to that if it would make you happy.” Lexie grinned.

“You make me happy.” Greer smiled as she bent down for another kiss.

When they finally broke apart for air Lexie pulled the taller woman inside and closed the door. “Come on, have a seat, relax, kick off your shoes and I'll get you a drink.” She placed the bags near the door and headed for the kitchen as Greer headed for the couch.

“Something smells wonderful.” Greer commented as she sank into the well worn cushions. “Did you cook?” She asked as Lexie returned carrying two glasses of wine.

“As much as I would like to take credit for it, I ran out of time and ordered something from Pasini's.” Lexie gave an impish grin as she settled next to Greer and took a sip of her wine. After a moment she could feel eyes upon her. “What?”

Greer took another sip of wine and continued looking at Lexie. “I'm just trying to figure out what's going on. Why aren't you at work tonight?”

Lexie ran a finger down Greer's soft cheek. “Because tonight I just needed to be with you. Do you mind?”

Leaning into the hand that rested along her chin Greer gently shook her head. She cherished any time she got to spend with this incredible woman. She watched as Lexie leaned in and took her lips once again. Considering how the day had started Greer felt like she was in heaven.

“If you'd like to take a shower and slip into more comfortable clothes while I heat up the bread, dinner can be served in fifteen minutes.” Lexie offered knowing how Greer liked to rinse the day's troubles away.

“You better be careful, I could get used to this.” Greer smiled as she started to rise with Lexie's help. “I'll be quick.”

“Take your time.” Lexie gave her a peck on the lips then disappeared into the kitchen. As the blonde disappeared into the bathroom Lexie quickly placed the bread into the oven then went to light the candles in the small dining area that had been screened off from the rest of the living room. For such an important event like tonight was, most people would want everything to be just perfect, and while Lexie wanted everything to be nice, mostly she wanted Greer to feel comfortable and relaxed.

Fifteen minutes later Greer walked out of the back room wearing a pair of soft faded jeans and a cotton men's dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Lexie thought she had never seen anything so sexy in her entire life.

Wrapping her arms around her shorter lover Greer greeted her with a long smoldering kiss. She pulled back and narrowed one eye at Lexie. “So you want to tell me what you're up to now or later?”

“Later.” Lexie grinned and took a hand from her shoulder to lead Greer to the table. “Lets eat first, I'm starved.”

“You're always hungry.” Greer laughed, then came to an abrupt stop as she walked around the shoji screens and saw the beautifully laid out table. Candles were perched on pedestals all around the small room and a small bouquet of Lilies graced the center of the table. She smiled down at Lexie and gave the small hand held in her own a light squeeze. “It's beautiful Lex. Whatever you're up to it must be a doozie.”

Pulling out a chair, Lexie just smirked. “Just take a seat.” Greer grinned as she sat down and Lexie removed the silver domed lid from the plate in front of her, causing Greer to grin even more. She poured wine in both their glasses then removed the lid from her own plate and joined Greer at the table. Raising her wine glass, Lexie looked deep into the emerald green eyes that she adored and made a toast. “To you, for putting up with all the craziness I bring into your life.”

They clinked glasses and took a sip then Greer raised her own glass. “And to you Lexie, for throwing normal out the window and bringing all your wonderful craziness into my life.”

“So you like crazy?”

“I love crazy.”

Smiling and taking a sip of her wine Lexie muttered. “I'm so glad to hear that.”

Greer watched Lexie for a moment longer before looking down at her food. “This looks great and I'm really hungry too.” Taking a bite of the cauliflower au gratin Greer knew that whatever Lexie had to tell her she would only do in her own time, so she settled in and enjoyed the meal.

They talked about Joseph and the progress he was making. Lexie relayed the previous nights dinner with Bron and Mac. She was still a little shocked at Mac's complete infatuation with the elf.

“What's the matter, don't you believe in love at first sight?” Greer quipped.

“When it comes to Mac, no.” Lexie let out a single chuckle.

“But what if they're soulmates?” Lexie stared curiously at Greer. “You do know the story of soulmates right? How the ancients had two heads and four arms, but they did something to piss off a god and were split down the middle creating humans and so now we are forever in search of our other half.” Greer looked at Lexie trying to figure out what the other woman was thinking. “So is that what really happened?”

Raising one eyebrow Lexie replied. “I'm not that old Greer.”

“But you know the real story.” Greer challenged.

“The one I know isn't quite so gruesome.” Lexie took a sip of her wine while Greer waited for her to continue. “Two people born at the same moment sharing one soul, always in the same village so the two could be connected from the beginning.”

“Twins?” Greer grimaced.


“Good, cause the incest thing is kinda creepy.”

“But ripping a person in half isn't?” Lexie grinned. “Anyway man insulted the wrong god and from then on the souls were split apart geographically, physically, spiritually and dimensionally, it's a whole soup mix of obstacles.” Greer looked a little pale so Lexie reassured her. “Don't worry, no one has that kind of power anymore. They're all just a bunch of working schmoes now with a few magic tricks up their sleeves.”

A soft smile graced Greer's face. “You are no schmoe.”

The love that shone in the green eyes was exactly what Lexie wanted, needed to see. “So you believe in soulmates?”

“Of course.” Greer set her wine glass down and searched the blue eyes that had become very intense.

“So you think your soulmate is out there somewhere?”

“Yes I do.” Greer nodded her head as she reached across the small table to take Lexie's hand. “In fact I think I may have found her.” She watched for a moment as blue eyes became watery then in a blink were clear and bright again.

The time had come and Lexie tried to swallow the lump that had formed in her throat. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the delicately tooled gold band. She held it concealed in her hand and rested it on top of the table. “I think you're right. I have been searching for you my whole life without ever realizing it. I felt something the moment we met and I tried to push you away because my life can be dangerous and I could not have anything happen to you. Lucky for me you don't take too well to being pushed.” Greer gave a small laugh and then Lexie opened her hand and held up the ring. Greer's breath caught in her throat at the sight of what Lexie held. “You are my soulmate Greer and I love you more than anyone or anything in this world or any other. Would you marry me?”

Tears gently spilled down Greer's cheeks and for the life of her she could not stop smiling. Somehow her tongue had lost the power of speech so she nodded her head. And as Lexie slipped the ring onto her finger she finally managed to whisper. “Yes.” Before she realized what was happening Lexie was by her side brushing away the tears and covering her face with kisses.

“Thank you.” Lexie breathed before putting all the love and passion she knew into one long smoldering kiss. When she released Greer's lips Lexie kneeled before the woman she loved and took both her hands into her own. Watching her own love reflected back from bright green eyes Lexie asked in a soft but serious tone. “There is something else Greer and I want you to think about this before you answer, there are a lot issues you need to consider and a lot of facts you need to know. And no matter what your answer will be I will still love you with all my heart and be your wife for as long as you will have me.” Lexie took a deep breath. “Gaia has granted you a gift that I have only just found out about. If you wish, she will give you the gift of immortality.”

Lexie watched carefully as Greer sat stunned. “It means we could be together for eternity.” Greer started to speak but Lexie laid a finger upon her lips. “Wait, you need to know exactly what that means. Remember when I said I can be killed? Well, it's really just a very long regenerative state, like years or even centuries long sleep. And while being immortal is great, it is also hard. Watching everyone you know and love die while you go on.” Lexie saw the enormity of the proposal settling in on Greer. “So I want you to think about this.” Lexie kissed the lips she had been touching.

When Greer was released her darkened eyes sparkled at Lexie and she demanded in a deep raspy voice. “Take me to bed.”



Just as the sun was beginning to touch the morning sky Lexie and Greer were startled out of a peaceful sleep when a slightly anxious Artemis popped into their bedroom.

“Lexie, I need your help…” Seeing the two naked women in bed, as Greer scrambling to pull the sheet up while Lexie bolted upright to glare at her, caused Artemis to stop abruptly. Having the good sense to be embarrassed at intruding on such a private moment in her daughter's life she turned slightly to give Greer a chance to cover herself. “Sorry, I didn't realize you were not alone.”

“Since when do you come barging into my bedroom!” Lexie shouted. Greer laid a hand on her lovers shoulder trying to calm her, the last thing they needed was an angry goddess.

Artemis turned squaring her shoulders and pinned her daughter with a hard glare. “Since Athena decided to go on a suicide mission on her own.” Lexie's hard glare immediately turned to a frown. “I would never just pop in here like this, but I need your help and I need it now.”

Jumping out of bed Lexie began to get dressed as she questioned her mother. “What's happened, where is she?”

“Some archeologist have found the source to the Aqua Traiana.”

One leg in her pants Lexie stopped to look at her mother. “Talos?”

“Not yet, but it's only a matter of time, if they open that tunnel all hell will break loose.”

Putting her other leg in her pants and zipping them up, Lexie continued to dress. “Let me guess, Mom went to get him out of there before anyone finds him?”

“Right, and you know Talos, he will kill anyone on sight, especially Athena, considering hers was the last face he saw before we sealed the tunnel.” Artemis's forehead was furrowed in worry and anger. “We were going to go together, but then this morning she just took off.”

So intent on their conversation, the mother and daughter did not notice that Greer had gotten out of bed and dressed in her clothes from last night. “Lexie?”

At the sound of her lovers voice Lexie looked up to find her fully dressed. “I'm sorry Greer, but I have to go, my Mom's in danger. I promise I'll be back as soon as I can.” Looking to her mother she could see the tension and fear in her eyes. “I'll grab my sword, but we need to stop and see Hephaestus.”

“I'm going with you.” Greer spoke up, she did not know what was going on, but if Athena was in trouble she wanted to help and the thought of Lexie going into something that was scaring Artemis terrified her.

A light shimmered next to Artemis and Aphrodite appeared looking calm but serious. “He's already there.”

Lexie glanced at her aunt then back to Greer. “I can't have you there, it's too dangerous.”

“She's right.” Artemis added.

Just as Greer began to object Aphie moved to her side and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “It's okay, she'll stay here with me. We have some things we need to discuss.”

In the blink of an eye Lexie kissed Greer good-bye, told her that she loved her and when Artemis touched her shoulder they were both gone. Greer let out a breath she had not realized she had been holding then looked around only to find just she and Aphrodite remained in the room. Staring at the woman who still had an arm around her and was doing her best at a reassuring smile, which was not working, Greer sighed and leaned her head back. Looking up at the ceiling she realized this was what the rest of her life would be like.

“It's not always this bad.” Aphie whispered and gave the worried woman a squeeze on her shoulder.

Greer's head whipped around. “Did you just read my mind?”

“No.” Aphie smiled. “I'm just really good at reading people's body language.” She let go as Greer sat on the bed with her head in her hands.

“What am I suppose to do Aphrodite?”

Gently stroking the top of the blonde head Aphie replied in a kind voice. “Well first you can call me Aphie.” Picking up the hand that sported the shiny new ring she smiled. “After all I think we are going to be related soon.” Greer looked at the ring Aphie was admiring and could not help but smile. “Second, why don't you take a shower while I whip us up some breakfast and then you and I can have a nice long chat. I imagine you have a few questions.” Aphie laughed at Greer's surprised expression. “It's what I do, remember?” She turned and left the room to see what Lexie had in her fridge, leaving a stunned Greer sitting on the bed.

Needing a few minutes to herself, Greer took her time and allowed the hot water of Lexie's shower to run over her, hoping it would take some of the tension out of her shoulders. Twenty minutes later a freshly scrubbed and steamed Greer made her way down the hall to join Aphie at the kitchen table. Pausing at the doorway she could not help noticing the normally vibrant woman was staring off into space with a concerned look on her face. Before her on the table sat two plates piled high with omelets, bacon, toast and a bowl of fruit on the side. Greer did not want to startle the woman so she took a loud deep breath as she entered the room. Aphie's head snapped in her direction, smile in place and no sign of her former mood.

“This looks great, I can't believe Lexie had all this in the house.” Greer observed as she sat down and picked up her fork.

“She didn't, I had to pop out and get a to-go order.” Aphie smiled as she picked at her fruit. “Dig in before it gets cold.”

Taking a bite of omelet Greer moaned in pleasure. “This is fantastic. Where did you get it?”

“A favorite little bistro of mine, about two blocks from the Eiffel tower.”

Greer's fork stopped midway to her mouth and she responded flatly. “Of course.” Noticing that Aphie was only playing with her food, the sinking feeling she had felt earlier started overtaking her again. “Aphie, what's wrong? Are you worried about Lexie? Where did she go?”

Giving up on her food Aphie reached for her apple juice and took a large swallow. “I'm worried for all of them, but that's just me, you shouldn't worry, Lexie can take care of herself. It's the Big H that concerns me.”

“Who's the Big H?”

“Hephaestus. Athena stopped and asked for his advice and he went with her. He's the one who designed the bronze that is Talos' skin.” Seeing that this explanation had done nothing to enlighten Greer she continued. “He is also the nicest, kindest and most gentle man I have ever known.” She let out a sigh.

“Hephaestus is the God of Fire right? Well it seems like he would be good to have in a fight.”

Raising one eyebrow, Aphie gave Greer a look as if to say ‘yeah, right'. “Sweetie, Big H is a blacksmith not a fighter.”

Greer had abandoned her food as well as she fully absorbed the emotions Aphie was projecting. “You're worried about him.” The small nod was the only response she got. “I'm sure he can take care of himself, besides he's got Athena, Artemis and Lexie with him, they won't let anything happen to him.” Aphie tried to give her a smile but it never quite made it to her eyes. “Now if memory serves me, aren't you married to Hephaestus?”

Finally a true smile graced the beautiful face of the Goddess of Love. “Well, sort of.”

“Sort of?” It was Greer's turn to raise an eyebrow. “You want to explain that?”

Aphie began to push her food around on her plate again. “We did get married a really long time ago, but we have what you might call a very open marriage.”

“I always read that he was um…”

“Ugly.” Aphie supplied with a little laugh. “Yeah, you could say that. And he has a badly mangled leg where Daddy threw him off the mount once, but Big H is one of the most beautiful individuals I have ever met.” Holding up a hand, Aphie stemmed the questions that always came when she made such a statement. “His beauty comes form the inside, and that is more wonderful than any physical attribute. Big H is my best friend, always has been.” A shrug of Aphie's shoulder told the other woman that there really was nothing more to say on the matter. Love is love and sometimes it just cannot be explained. Nodding her head, Greer stared down at her food.

“So I take it Lexie popped the question.”

Bright green eyes were the first to give away Greer's excitement. The uncontrollable smile that followed left no mistaking what her answer had been.

“Grab your juice kid and lets get comfortable. You and I need to have a little talk.” Aphie said as she picked up her own glass and headed for the sofa in the living room.

Greer sat for a moment a little apprehensive about what Aphrodite had to discuss with her. Then considered that she might be able to get some answers to the many questions that had popped into her head after last night's revelation by Lexie, Greer picked up her juice and joined Aphie in the living room. She moved to a comfy looking chair across from the sofa, but before she could sit Aphie patted the cushion next to her and Greer took the hint, sitting next to the goddess on the sofa.

“So,” Aphie started in a quiet but encouraging voice. “Lexie did more than just propose to you didn't she?”

For a brief moment Greer wanted to keep Lexie's proposal just between them, but she understood that Aphie was not asking for juicy details of their love life. Somehow she knew about the other thing Lexie had mentioned. “How did you know?”

Aphie gave a gentle smile to this woman who was still new to their world. “Because I was the one Gaia entrusted with delivering her message.” Pulling her legs up to tuck under her, Aphie set her glass down and leveled her full attention on Greer.

The sensation was almost overwhelming to the mortal and she scooted a little closer to the pure love that was emanating form the woman next to her. “Lexie said I could be given the gift of immortality.”

“That's right sweetie. And it's a very rare gift indeed. I can only think of two other times Gaia has given it to a mortal she has considered worthy.”

“Worthy?” This description peeked Greer curiosity.

“Gaia's decision does not solely rest on the bases that you and Lexie can be together forever. She sees something in you, something important that you have to offer the world. Your existence is important not just now, but for all time.” Aphie watched carefully as Greer struggled with this information. “Gaia has a soft spot for her grand-daughter and I think she would have offered this just for the sake of Lexie's happiness alone, but there's more to it than that.”

Greer found her voice had become weak and had to force herself to speak. “What could I possible have to offer that would merit such an extravagant offer?”

Reaching over Aphie rested a soft hand on Greer's shoulder. “I don't know sweetie, Gaia doesn't give out that kind of information. She believes that you will come into it in your own time. And I have never heard of her being wrong.”

Taking a deep breath Greer dumbly nodded her head as she stared down at her own hands resting in her lap. After several minutes she finally spoke again. “Lexie said I need to know all the facts. Is this what she was talking about?”

“Probably not, we didn't get this far along in our conversation, she was probably talking about things you need to know about being an immortal. It's not always fun and games, but I can go through it with you and you can ask me anything you want.”

Greer finally looked up into blue eyes that had to be a family trait she thought and raised both her eyebrows nearly to her hairline. “Do I get special powers?”

Laughing out loud, Aphie reached down and gave Greer's hand a squeeze. “I don't think so kiddo. We all have what we're born with, although completely healing from being shot or run through with a sword is a pretty neat trick.” She gave the younger woman a wink then stood up. “I'm going to make us a pot of coffee and then we will go through this point by point.”

Aphrodite walked away and Greer sunk back deeper into the soft cushions. She wondered how Lexie was doing and if she were immortal if Lexie would let her join in on her missions. And while she still worried about her petite lover she now had a million other thoughts running through her mind to somewhat take her attention off the dangerous position Lexie was in at that very moment.


Just north of Lake Bracciano , deep in the tunnels that make up the earliest start of the Aqua Traiana, Lexie and Artemis appeared in the absolute darkness just outside of Talos' tomb. To just pop in on Talos would be too dangerous, so they took a moment to figure out what would be the best plan of action. Artemis conjured up a ball of light and held it in her hand while Lexie pressed herself against the sealed entrance of Talos' tunnel.

The air was cool and smelled of earth. No sound could be heard so Lexie reached out with all her senses to see what was happening on the other side of the wall. Closing her eyes she slowed her breathing and stretched beyond all limits she had ever tried before. Anger, confusion, pain and fear were the first things to hit her as she began to feel her way through the room. Talos stood in the center of the small space on alert for any movement. The confusion was coming from him along with a great deal of anger. There were intruders in his tunnel, one had attacked him and the other was trying to talk to him.

Continuing around the room Lexie could hear the mummers as H tried to reason with the giant bronze man. A ghost of a smile appeared on her lips at the thought of the most peaceful man she knew trying to talk down a killing machine. She picked up on an accelerated heartbeat not far from H, it was Athena and she was injured. Not knowing how bad it was Lexie called over her shoulder to Artemis. “Be right back.” And before her mother could register the words Lexie was gone.

A moment later she appeared on the ground in front of Artemis, one hand clutching H's shoulder while the other held Athena's ankle. Athena was covered in blood and her right arm hung at an unnatural angle due to most of her shoulder being ripped away. Artemis quickly tossed the light into the air above their heads and knelt down to attend to her wife.

Finally able to see the damage she had felt before, Lexie's eyes grew big. “Mom?”

Hearing the worry in her daughter's voice, Athena quickly smiled and reassured her. “I'm fine Lex, the big bucket in there just got in a lucky jab.” She winced as Artemis wrapped the shirt she had just taken off around her arm and tied her shoulder back in place. Raising an eyebrow at her wife she was glad to see the woman still sported a tank top and was not sitting there exposed.

Knowing her mom would recover, Lexie turned her attention to Hephaestus. “You okay H?” The man looked a little pale to her as she ran her eyes over him to look for injuries.

Coming out of his own thoughts, H noticed his niece for the first time. “Oh Lexie, hello dear.” As if just remembering what they were doing he looked around. “Athena? You okay?”

Smiling at the gentle man, Athena nodded. “I'm good H.” She couldn't help wondering what she had been thinking when she let H come along. He was a good guy, but no fighter. She had hoped that his knowledge of the giant would give her an upper hand, but he did not want to see Talos hurt, so she agreed to try his way first. All that had gotten them was her shoulder torn from its socket and a mass of bruises on H's back and chest where she had landed on him when the brute flung her across the room. Thoroughly pissed off now she was ready to go back in there and rip that tin can open.

“You're lucky he didn't get both hands on you, he could have ripped you in half.” H said as he observed the damage to Athena's shoulder.

Everyone paused and was now looking at the burly man. Athena stood up with a renewed fight. “Yeah well I'd like to see him try it with all four of us. I say we get back in there and attack all at once.”

Before H could respond Lexie looked up at Athena. “Mom, sit down.” If she had been alone she would have just gone in and dealt with whatever Talos threw at her, but with one non-fighter and one injured goddess they needed a plan. “I agree we need to get him out of here, but look around, no one is beating the door down to get in here. Let's just take a minute and think this through.”

Knowing her daughter was right, Athena resumed her seat next to her wife. “Fine.”

“Right, now, what do we know about Talos?” Lexie turned to her uncle. “H?”

Thinking for a moment H laid out all the information he felt was relevant. “It seems that after nearly two and a half thousand years in that tunnel he can see in absolute darkness. He had no trouble following us wherever we went. He may be moving a little slower then he use to, probably due to stiffening of joints, but his strength has not diminished.”

“Okay.” Lexie nodded as she processed the new information. “I know how you feel about him H, but I need to know his weaknesses. If I can relocate him I will, but I have to be able to stop him before he kills anyone.”

Conceding to the obvious H proceeded to tell Lexie the only possible weak point on the giant. Despite what legend would have everyone believe, Talos' most vulnerable spot was not his heel, but behind his ears. Even if someone could get to it the task of prying back the metal would be nearly impossible.

“Right, so I need one super sized armor piercing q-tip.” Lexie said a little disappointed. H shifted the pack he had been wearing on his back and pulled out a three foot long piece of metal that was flattened on one end and sharpened to a point on the other. Lexie smiled as he handed it to her. “What's this?”

“It's not a q-tip, but it is the only pry bar that can remove his skin.” H said reluctantly.

Lexie knew that H would never stop them from destroying Talos. She also knew that he cared for the creature he helped to create. “Thanks H, I promise to only use it if I have to. Now, to the problem of relocation. This planet has gotten very crowded and people are constantly on the move, so what do we do with a ten foot tall metal man with a one track mind?”

“Drop him on another planet?” Artemis suggested.

“He still requires oxygen to breathe. Which is why we had to leave tiny holes in there. It would be the same as killing him. As well as who ever took him there.” Athena said as she thought about the dilemma they faced.

They all sat trying to think of a good place for the bronze man to be relocated to. Here was yet another creature that the world had changed too much to include. Suddenly Lexie's head snapped up. “This planet, but not this world! That's it.” Grinning she looked at the questioning faces around her. “I have an idea that I think just might work.” She turned to H, excitement shinning in her grey eyes. “You were actually talking to him in there and he seemed to be listening even though he was very confused and angry.”

“Yes, I think he recognized me as one who helped to give him life.”

“Good, that's good, I think we might be able to talk to him. What if instead of trying to defeat him we seek his help?” Lexie acknowledged the surprised look on H's face with a nod. Slowly the man began to smile. She turned to her mother. “Talos has only known one thing his whole life, he was created to guard. He's a protector and he's not going to let go of that, trust me. So we offer him a job.”

Artemis exchanged a confused look with her wife before questioning her daughter. “Exactly what job?”

Lexie jumped to her feet. “I need to talk to Bron. Damn it, I don't have time to run all over Spain looking for her.” Without knowing what she was doing, Lexie took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She held her hands out slightly before her in almost a begging gesture. “Bron, I need you here, now.”

There was a slight shimmer in the air beside Lexie as Bron appeared, her hand raised as if she were about to knock on a door. The tall elf's eyes widened, as she looked around the ball of light in front of her to see Lexie standing there, eyes closed, deep in concentration.

“Lexie! What the hell did you just do!?!” The elf shouted as she attempted to peer around the light.

Three sets of eyes were now locked on the tall woman, shock evident on all their faces. Artemis quickly flicked her wrist to move the light away from the tall elf's face while continuing to stare at the woman. Athena looked between the elf and her daughter several times before a smile creped up on her lips. And H simply watched what ever was about to unfold.

Breaking her stunned silence, Lexie took in a sharp breath. “Bron, you're here.”

“Yes, and not of my own free will I might add. You want to tell me what's going on.”

The tall woman did not seem too happy at the moment so Lexie quickly explained their situation. “I'm sorry about that, but I desperately need your help. We need your help.” She said gesturing to the others in the room. “Talos has been locked away in here,” she pointed to the sealed wall, “for over two centuries and now he is in danger of being discovered. If that happens, a lot of people are going to die. We could destroy him, but it's not really his fault that he is what he is. And besides Uncle H here has a real soft spot for the big guy.” The elf dubiously looked down on the man sitting on the floor. “It would be much better if we could simply put him back to work.”

Bron raised one eyebrow in Lexie's direction while narrowing her eyes. “Lexie. Why am I here?”

“The Badlands .” Lexie waited a beat before continuing. “You still have creatures occasionally coming out of the Badlands and trying to destroy the forest and all those who live in it?” She waited as Bron gave a slow single nod. “What if Talos protected the border? Nothing would get past him. You could stop the spread of the Badlands .”

Bron thought about this for a moment. “How would we know he would not turn on us?”

H stood and limped forward. “Because his loyalty is absolute. Once he is in your service, he will never break that oath.”

Looking down at the man who somehow did not seem as unappealing as the last time she had seen him, Bron narrowed her eyes. “I told you building a tin man was a bad idea.”

A small smile could just be made out on the weathered old face. “He's bronze.”

The elf narrowed her eyes at Lexie now. “It's not a bad idea, but we would have to present it to father.” Taking another look around at the expectant eyes upon her, Bron let out a hrumpf and pinned her glare on Lexie again. “And you will tell me how you did that” referring to her sudden appearance in the dinghy tunnel.

A mischievous grin made Lexie's eyes sparkle. “Just as soon as I figure it out myself.” Reaching out a hand she helped her mom up as Artemis supported Athena's bad arm. “Okay, here's the plan.” She quickly laid out what they were going to do then slid the pry bar into her back sheath without giving a thought to the fact that she had not put it on before leaving. Nor had she had time to grab her sword, which hung in its customary spot on her side. Arranging everyone to their strategic positions, Lexie gave the signal and they all transported back inside the dark tomb.

As soon as they entered H, Athena and Artemis created large balls of light and suspended them before the standing giant. Just as Lexie had thought, the sudden light rendered him blind and she was able to take advantage of his disorientation. She and Bron stood before him while the three light bearers stood behind them, ready to take any action necessary.

“Great and mighty Talos we have come to seek the Guardian, we are in need of your services.” Lexie spoke loud and clear and hoped Talos would not slice them in half where they stood. Bron glanced down at the small woman next to her and rolled her eyes at the overly formal way Lexie was speaking. “Talos, we seek your help, do you agree to listen to us?”

The tall bronze man still could not see and tried desperately to shield his eyes from the bright light. In his confused and agitated state he was in to mood for talking. Before things could get out of hand H stepped forward and using a much more soothing tone spoke. “Talos, it is Hephaestus. I know you have laid here dormant for many years, but the time has come once again for you to rise up and take your rightful place along the border of a great land once more. You are being called upon to serve. You have been given a long and peaceful rest, but now is the time to awaken and step out into the light once more. What say you my son?”

The gentle voice seemed to soothe the creature and the light was pulled back to a more tolerable distance. Although still mostly blinded the giant looked around for the source of the voice it knew so well. A shadow limped forward and the great head bowed to it. The voice that emanated from its throat sounded like a rusty door hinge. “Father I am ready to do as you command.”

Breathing a sigh of relief H waved Bron forward. “This is Bronwyn, High Princess of the Elves. Their land borders that of a great wasteland. She has come here seeking a guardian who will protect their land and people from those that would destroy it. Their enemies are the creatures of the Badlands . Will you protect them?”

The giant seemed to study Bron and H, determining if this was a true offer or just another trick. Raising his head, Talos stood tall. “I will be the Guardian of the Elves. To this I pledge my life to Bronwyn, High Princess of the Elves.”

Looking over her shoulder to Lexie, Bron muttered. “Oh boy.” To which Lexie gave her a ridicules show of teeth and two thumbs up.

There were still things to do before they could move the giant. It would take a couple of days to acclimate his eyesight to the full light of day and Trahaearn needed to be told he now had a new servant in his employ. Artemis took Athena back home to have her shoulder attended to, much to Athena's displeasure, before coming back to help H with keeping the light adjusted. H had coaxed Talos into sitting down so he could check over the giant and make sure he was in good working order. Lexie and Bron adjourned to the far side of the space, but not so far that Lexie could not keep an eye on the suddenly docile creature.

“You better leave Father to me. After that little demonstration I think it best you leave the diplomatic talks to someone else.” Bron smirked.

A quick retort was on Lexie's tongue, but she let it slide in view of how well the situation had turned out. Things could have been a lot worse, but for once luck had been on her side and everyone seemed to win today.

Noticing the lack of response Bron thought back to just how she had gotten involved in this. “So, you going to tell me or what?” Light grey eyes looked up at her but had no answer. “Lex, what's going on? That's a pretty powerful trick you pulled back there.”

Nodding her head Lexie watched as her uncle gently rotated the giant's arm. “Yeah, that's a new one on me too.” She looked up into clear blue eyes. “All I know is I really needed you and I didn't know how to find you.”

“Well at least I wasn't in the shower.” Bron replied dryly.

Lexie tried to hide the smirk and knew she had failed when an open palm made contact with the back of her head. She bumped a hip into the one next to her, but due to the height difference only managed to hit a well muscled thigh. “You better go talk to your father, hopefully he's not going to blow a gasket. If he doesn't agree we are going to have to destroy Talos.”

“Don't worry little one, he'll be fine with it. We made a deal and elves honor their deals.” Bron smiled as she wrapped an arm around the tense shoulders. “I'll come by tomorrow and see how he's doing. I'm pretty sure Hephaestus and I can handle it from here on out.” She leaned down and gave the top of Lexie's head a kiss. “You should go check on your mom. I'll see you back in Spain .”

Before Lexie could respond Bron shimmered away. She stood for a moment taking a deep breath, glad that today had turned out the way it had. Lexie never liked killing a creature of the old world, but she would always put the people she protected first. In that way she and Talos were a lot alike. Perhaps one day they would put her out to pasture as well. And if that happened she hoped she would be lucky enough to get a second chance just as he was getting now. She needed to tell H that Bron would be back and then go check on Athena and then go see just how much trouble Aphrodite had gotten her into with Greer. As she walked over to the reclining giant she wondered if everyone had this much excitement in their lives on a daily basis.



Despite the chaos the morning brought the day had turned into one of those beautiful days that beckoned for you to be outside. Greer had given up on going into the office and called to let them know something had come up and she would see them sometime next week. Given the last twenty-four hours she was not planning or anticipating anything at the moment. Talking with Aphie had proved exhausting so Greer moved them out to the deck for lunch and a bit of fresh air. It was getting on into the late afternoon and they were still sitting in the sun. Talking had dwindled down to the occasional request for a refill of iced tea and a soothing quiet had settled over them as they sat staring out over the rooftops of the Jordaan. Each preoccupied with what might be happening nearly a thousand miles away.

There was so much she did not know about the world Lexie came from and Greer felt it would take her a lifetime just to catch up. And that is what it came down to, a lifetime. Her lifetime or Lexie's. Sitting there not knowing what was happening to her lover, whether she was alive or hurt or perhaps trapped under millions of tons of earth, was starting to wear on Greer's nerves. Before she could talk herself into a depression the door to the rooftop opened and Lexie walked through.

At the sight of the perfectly intact, but slightly dirty woman, Greer launched herself from the chair she had been lounging in and wrapped her entire body around Lexie like a cocoon. Aphie stood watching the emotional moment and gave the two the time they needed despite her own anxiousness for her best friend.

Returning the embrace Lexie tried to pull back a little, but Greer's grip was too tight. Worried that something else had happened, she gently pried Greer back just enough to see her face. “Hey, it's okay, I'm here. Did something happen while I was away?” Blue eyes searched green to find the reason for so much emotion.

Greer tried to swallow the torrent of emotions down that had come from out of nowhere. “Not here, but you were off fighting some giant robot and I just got scared I guess.”

A small laugh escaped Lexie's throat. “Talos is not a robot, he's kind of flesh and blood, only with a bronze exoskeleton.” She gave the blonde in her arms her best reassuring smile then tilted her head slightly to glare at the blonde behind them. “Aph, what have you been telling her?”

Aphie opened her mouth to speak, but Greer beat her to it. “No, it's not her, Aphrodite's been great.” Releasing Lexie enough so she could turn, Greer smiled at the woman she had gotten to know a little better over the last few hours. “She's pretty amazing in fact. I'm afraid I just let my own imagination get carried away with me.” She made a point of looking Lexie directly in the eye. “A little too much information in too short of time.”

“Sorry about that.” And it was true. Lexie had wanted everything to be perfect and to spend the time with Greer going over all the things her proposal meant. Instead her job had gotten in the way once again. And if there was one thing Lexie had learned, it was that jobs would pop up at the most inopportune moments. Was it fair of her to ask Greer to put up with that kind of uncertainty?

Greer watched as doubt and insecurity clouded over the smudge covered face and once again she was reminded of how sensitive this mighty warrior was. Before those doubts could settle in Greer pulled Lexie close and gave her a kiss that would wash away any question in her mind as to exactly how much Greer loved her. Pulling back Greer grinned down at Lexie. “And don't you forget it.”

Aphie could not wait any longer to hear what had happened. “Awe, isn't that sweet.” She said in a flat dull tone. “Lexie, where's Big H?”

Lexie knew that tone of voice from her aunt, she wanted answers and she wanted them now, patience was no longer one of her attributes. “He's back at the tunnel babysitting that big tin can of his. They're rolling around in the dirt and having a great time.” Aphie's eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You should have seen him Aph. Uncle H was a hero today. And except for Mom there were no casualties and everyone lives to see another day.”

“Your Mom?” Greer asked concerned, at the same time as Aphrodite remembered her sister was there. “Athena?”

“She's fine, or she will be.” Lexie assured them. “She went in all half cocked and guns a blazing and Talos ripped her shoulder out. She of all people should have known better then to go at him head on like that.”

“Why is that?” Greer asked.

“Because she's the one who put him there in the first place. And he wasn't too happy about it then. Imagine how pissed off he was to see her after all this time.” Lexie gave her aunt a knowing smile. “If you wanted to go down and wait with H in the tunnel I'm sure he wouldn't mind. They can't move the big guy until probably tomorrow night. Bron is taking him into the mist. He's going to be their new guardian against the Badlands .”

Aphie's eyes lit up with excitement. “That's a great idea, how in the world did Big H ever come up with that?”

“Well, it was my idea, but H is the one who talked Talos into it. If he hadn't been able to calm him down and convince him to take the job, things were going to get really ugly.”

“That's my Big H.” Aphie beamed with pride. “I think I will go down and keep the boys company. Greer, it's been fun, I'll be seeing you soon I hope.” With a wink at her favorite niece, Aphrodite shimmered away.

Alone at last Lexie ran her hands up Greer's sides to gently trace her way back down the long soft arms. Taking soft hands in her own she twined their fingers together and pulled the beautiful blonde down for another kiss. When she released the soft lips there was a twinkle in her eye. “So, want to go inside and help me get cleaned up?”

A large smile was her answer. “Oh wait, Mac called, one of the dancers has been hurt.” In all the excitement Greer had almost forgotten about Mac's call earlier that morning.

Lexie hung her head in defeat. Really, were everyone's lives like this? Holding out her hand, Lexie gave an apologetic grimace. “You have my phone?” Greer grabbed it off the table and handed it over. Punching speed dial she waited two ring tones before Mac answered. “Mac, what happened?”

“Everything's fine. Mr. Grace Personified Garrett tripped on the sidewalk going to get coffee this morning and sprained his wrist. He's going to be out a couple of days. We've already walked through a cover, so no worries, I just wanted to let you know.” Mac rattled off in her ‘why are you bothering me now' voice.

It was not hard for Lexie to pick up on something else in Mac's voice. “You sound like shit Mac, what's wrong?”

Sometimes Mac was glad Lexie knew her so well, today was not one of those times. “It's nothing Lex, I've just got a lot to deal with right now.”

“No you don't because I'm going to be there tonight and I will do Garrett's part, we do Bella's show as usual. Now I am covered in dirt, sweat and blood so you can either tell me now or I'm popping over there, putting you in a headlock with your nose in my armpit and you can tell me then.” Lexie threatened.

“There's no need to threaten my life with your foul odor.” Mac grumbled. “Besides two seconds in your pits would render a person unconscious.” A loud growl of annoyance made Mac pull the phone away from her ear. Reluctantly she gave in. “It's nothing Lex. I was expecting Bronwyn to come by this morning for breakfast and she never showed up, she didn't even call.”

Lexie let out a loud sigh. “Mac, that's my fault. I had an emergency and needed Bron's help. She didn't call because I sort of popped her away without asking. Don't be upset with her Mac, but right now she has her hands full with something that could save a lot of lives. I'm sure she'll call you as soon as she can. It might be another day or two though.”

Sometimes it was easy to forget just how crazy it was to be a part of Lexie's life. And Mac had been too caught up in her own disappointment to remember Lex was away fighting some big bad. “Oh, right. Right.” She kind of felt a little silly at the moment. “You know you will never fit into Garrett's costumes.”

“I'll improvise.”

“Just make sure you shower before you get here.”

“See you in half an hour.” Lexie hung up the phone and wondered why Greer was giving her one of those looks.

“Covered in blood?” Greer smirked.

“Yeah, look right there.” Lexie pointed to a smear of blood on her pant leg and one on her shoulder where Athena had put her hand. Greer just arched an eyebrow at her. “What?”

“Let's go shower.” Greer said taking her lover by the hand and dragging her towards the door. “And I need to throw some clothes in a bag, I'm coming with you.”

A huge grin broke out on Lexie's face as she thought today had just taken a big turn for the better.



An hour before curtain call Mac was storming around the theatre like an angry pit bull. They had a sold out house and Lexie still was not there. And despite the fact that Bronwyn had phoned her to apologize for missing their date she still found herself irritated and upset. The elf explained what had happened and that she would not be back in town for a few days. The show only had three more performances before moving on to Madrid and Mac was beginning to fear she would never see Bronwyn again. Every time the tall Scot pondered this thought she became even more agitated. Mac was not the type of woman who pined away for someone. Love ‘em and leave ‘em was her motto, but for the first time in her life she did not want to leave this one behind. She was not sure what was bothering her more, the fact that she would have to leave Bronwyn behind or that she did not want to.

Unbeknownst to the grumpy Mac, Lexie was in her quarters rapidly digging through her closet and pulling out as many varied colored leggings and leotards as she could find. The cast member she would be replacing was at least a foot taller than she, so any of his pants and bottoms was out of the question. Her plan was that Becks could safety pin the tops to fit her so she did not look like she was wearing a sleeping bag. Just as she was about to head to the theatre, Greer stepped out of the tiny bathroom wearing a sexy midnight blue dress with a plunging neckline. Lexie paused a moment to admire how the dress showed off all of Greer's best features.

Greer noticed the look she was getting and smiled seductively. “Like what you see?”

The smile on Lexie's face spoke volumes. “Very much.” She said as she placed a light kiss on the lips that smiled back at her. “But I've got to get going if I'm to have all my costumes ready in time.”

“Well come on then. We've got some pinning to do.” Greer grinned and opened the door for Lexie.

The dressing room consisted of one large room above the backstage area that was divided in half by an enormous walk thru closet where all the costumes were housed. Modesty is not a virtue that belongs in a theatre, so when Greer walked into the dressing room and saw both men and women wandering around in nothing more than their underwear she was slightly embarrassed. As long as no one minded her being there, then she tried to not mind everyone's nakedness. She walked quickly to keep up with Lexie who was calling out to Becks for help and headed to the costume room.

Becks entered from the opposite side of the closet where she had just helped her husband finish putting on his make-up. “Hi Lexie! Mac said you were going to be coming back tonight and that you're going to be Garrett. I think you have a little growing to do.” The always pleasant blonde smirked at her boss before smiling at Greer. “It's good to see you Greer.”

“Ha ha ha. Listen do you have time to help me sort out some costumes. I've got all of this and I can just throw his tops on over it. Would you grab a box of safety pins?” Lexie began pulling out all of Garrett's costumes and throwing them on the floor then matching them up with her leo's and leggings.

In a matter of minutes the three of them had managed to put together enough outfits to get Lexie through the show and not look horribly out of place. Lexie could hear the audience being let into the house and she scrambled to slap on some make up while Becks fitted and pinned all the tops. Fifteen minutes before curtain a very pissed off Mac stomped into the dressing room.

“Looks like we've got a no show people, we're gonna hav…” At that moment Mac looked up from her clipboard to see Lexie standing in the middle of the room holding Kristi, Garrett's dance partner, over her head. Everyone stood frozen staring at their irate stage manager wondering what she was talking about. “Ugh, Lex, you're here.”

Gently placing Kristi on the floor, Lexie apologized. “Yeah, sorry Mac, I didn't have time to come and find you first. I just want to run through a few more moves with Kristi and we're ready.” Lexie went back to her rehearsal and refused to pay attention to the scowl on her best friends face.

Greer on the other hand did notice. She walked over and gave Mac a light kiss on the cheek. “Hi Mac, I'm really glad to see you.” She noticed the woman's features soften immediately as the muddy green eyes took in her slinky dress. “I don't want to be in the way so I'm going to go out front to watch the show.”

Just as Greer was about to leave Mac snapped out of her distraction. “Oh Greer, we have a sold out house.”

Mac had sounded almost heartbroken and Greer wondered what else was going on. “That's okay, I'll just stand in the back of the house. Drinks after the show?” When Mac agreed she gave Becks a wink and told her. “I'll see you later,” before leaving to join the audience.

As soon as Greer left and before Mac could get Lexie's attention, Becks walked over to the stage manager and whispered. “Did you happen to notice the new ring Greer is sporting on her left hand?” For a moment Mac just stared at her blankly, then wide eyes blinked several times before snapping their attention to the small woman who was spinning the taller dancer around her shoulders and then up into a handstand supported by only her own hands. “You guys have fun at drinks tonight.” Becks grinned as she walked away knowing that Mac would have all the juicy details for her tomorrow.



The evening was pleasantly warm and the promenades were bustling with people. Street musicians could be found every few blocks providing entertainment for the many outdoor cafés. Making their way through the crowds out to the open boulevards, Lexie hailed a cab. A short drive later Mac and Greer found themselves being seated at the cozy La Font de Prades restaurant. Sitting back they allowed Lexie to order them a traditional Catalan dinner that the area was so well known for. They had been lucky enough to be seated outside and after ordering, each seemed content to simply sip her wine and people watch for a while.

After munching through a plate of roasted vegetable bread and a glass of wine Lexie was beginning to feel the weight of just how stressful her day had been. She melted a little further down into her chair and allowed the tension that she always carried to slip away. And that was why she was so completely unprepared when Mac broke the quiet.

“So did you guys go get married or something?”

Unfortunately Greer had just taken a sip of wine and Mac now found herself wearing said wine. Lexie simply glared at her friend as she tossed her napkin at the dripping face.

“Wh, why would you say something like that Mac?” A stunned Greer asked as she wiped a dribble of red wine off her chin.

Dabbing at the wine on her now ruined shirt Mac considered perhaps the art of subtlety was not a bad thing to learn. Pointing to the hand that had just set down its ammunition, Mac grumbled. “New ring.”

Greer looked at the shinny band and could not help the warm smile that crept the edges of her lips skyward. She gave Lexie a knowing look as both her eyebrows jumped, letting her lover know that all explanations were going to have to come from her.

Lexie let out a deep sigh then sat up in her seat. “No smartass. I simply asked Greer to marry me and she said yes.”

“So that's why you've been playing hooky from work.” Mac smirked.

“Well that and the large bronze killing machine.” Lexie popped an olive in her mouth. “Has Bron called you yet?”

“Yeah, said something about being here one minute and gone the next, without her permission.” Mac looked pointedly at her friend. “She should be able to make it back before we pull out.”

Greer sat watching the conversation between the two other women at the table and was reminded of just how much the two had been through together to have what was to her an important topic be skimmed over so casually. At that moment Mac leaned over to her and kissed her cheek.

“Congratulations love. Are you sure you know what you're getting into. I mean her discarded socks on the bathroom floor alone could kill a werewolf at fifty paces.”

Laughing, Greer hugged the woman she had come to value as a close friend. “I think I can handle it. I've got a pretty air tight laundry hamper.”

Mac raised her hand to catch the waiter's attention and ordered another bottle of wine before turning her full attention back to the small woman who was eyeing her with intensity. “So you set a date yet, because you are not allowed to just string this one along while you drag your feet.”

“I'm afraid we were interrupted before that could happen.” Lexie paused as their food was delivered and she took an appreciative inhale of the intoxicating aromas. “But don't' worry, you'll be the first to know.”

“Hey, I have to work the schedule around it. Unless you're planning on the honeymoon being in that trailer of yours.”

A mischievous sparkle lit up Lexie's eyes. “Don't even think about it” Greer said as she stole a bite of black beans from Mac's plate.

“Actually,” Lexie's tone bringing a bit of seriousness back into the conversation, “I was thinking that if we want to do it sooner, we have that ten day break after Berlin. That's about five months from now. Otherwise it will have to wait until the end of the tour, then we can take as long as we like.” She watched Greer's face to see any indication of what the woman was thinking.

Holding Lexie's gaze, Greer slowly smiled as she warmed to the idea. “I think I can be ready in five months.” She reached over and clasped Lexie's hand. “We can do it this weekend if you want, I don't care about a honeymoon as long as we can see each other everyday.”

Heat radiated off Lexie in waves that could almost be seen. Mac watched them for a moment before committing. “If you start making out I'm moving to another table.”

Lexie raised the hand that held hers to her lips and kissed the pulse point on Greer's wrist. “I would love that, but I think Aphie needs more than a day's notice. Besides my parents are going to want to be there and Mom's shoulder is pretty badly mangled right now. So what do you say we start making plans for five months from now?” A huge grin was her answer. “Do you think Joseph is ready to give you away?”

Tears of happiness sprang to Greer's eyes. “Only to you.”

“Oh bloody hell.” Mac dropped her fork. “Since when did you go all mushy?” She addressed Lexie.

Lexie turned a smile on her friend. “You're going to be my best mate right?”

The lump that formed in Mac's throat was difficult to dislodge, but she finally managed to swallow it down and gave a single nod of her head. “Well, someone has to make sure you do this right and not muddle it all up.” She cleared her throat again as she retrieved her fork. “Now do you mind if I finish my meal or are there any other earth shattering announcements you would like to make.”

Giving a squeeze to the hand she still held, Lexie aimed a smile and wink at Greer. Letting her know that anything else was just between the two of them. “As if anything would keep you from a meal. No I think we are all done altering your world.”

Mac grunted as she swallowed a bite of tomato bread. “You've gone completely mental if you think my world revolves around one wee little flying monkey.” Catching Lexie's eye Mac gave her a quick twitch of her eyebrows before returning her attention to her dinner.

Greer decided to follow Mac's example by tucking into her chicken stew with excitement, she was really hungry and had not realized it until now. The food was amazing; the night sky beautiful, she had lively dinner companions and the woman she loved was going to be her wife in just five months. All in all, Greer was having a pretty good night.


After the last show on Sunday the couple returned to Amsterdam . Greer needed to check in with work and Lexie had an important task of her own to take care of. So after dropping Greer off at work Monday morning she headed across the park to see Joseph.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the light breeze seemed to propel Lexie along, reminding her not to dawdle as she picked up pastries and flowers for Mrs. Stark. A fluttering in her stomach had caused Lexie to slow her pace the closer she got to the familiar house. Never in all the years she had know Joseph had she ever been nervous about seeing the man, but today it felt like butterflies were doing summersaults in her stomach.

Standing at the bottom of the steps she took a deep breath as she stared up at the door. It occurred to Lexie that never before had her actions affected Joseph in such a personal way and this was probably the cause of this completely out of character nervous hesitation. Shaking her head to clear it and taking several cleansing breaths, Lexie climbed the stairs and knocked on the door.

A moment later the door opened and Mrs. Stark smiled at seeing Lexie standing there. They had seen a lot of the small woman since she started dating Greer so it was not unusual to see her just turn up, but the housekeeper did start wondering why Lexie was just standing there. “Lexie. Greer's not here.”

“I know, I just dropped her off at work.” Lexie continued to stand there looking a bit expectantly at the older woman.

“Well would you like to come in?” Mrs. Stark was not sure what was going on. She had never seen Lexie so quiet.

As the smaller woman stepped through the door she shoved her parcels at the housekeeper. “I need to speak with Joseph.”

Removing the flowers from her nose Mrs. Stark closed the door and motioned to the stairs. “He's upstairs, go on up if you like.” She watched as Lexie paused a moment. “Lexie, are you all right?”

Turning back to the woman who had always treated her as one of the family Lexie gave her a genuine smile then quickly kissed her on the cheek as she said, “I'm better than great.” Feeling confident again Lexie hurried up the stairs to Joseph's den.

The door was open and she knocked before sticking her head in. “Up for a visitor?”

Joseph was sitting on the sofa reading the paper and smiled a welcome as Lexie came to sit next to him. “Lax.” With a lot of hard work on Ginny's part Joseph was regaining his voice. His words were slurred and he had a tendency to shorten them, but at least he was talking.

“Looking good old friend.” Lexie said as she clasped the hand he held out. She noticed he had automatically looked to the door expecting Greer to be behind her. “I dropped her at work, she'll be here for lunch.”

He smiled and nodded then settled his attention on Lexie. Reading Joseph had always been easy for Lexie and today was no different. She could see that he knew there was something she wanted to talk to him about. “Yes, I wanted to talk to you about something very important.” She waited a moment as he seemed to be sizing her up.


Lexie smiled. “Yes, Greer.” She paused again. “Joseph, your daughter is the most important person in my life. I would do anything for her and I would like to spend the rest of my life making her happy.” Lexie tried to read Joseph's eyes but only found them intently focused on her. “Joseph I love Greer more than life and I want to marry her. I am asking for your blessing.” The brown eyes shifted slightly and the stubbled cheek twitched once. “No, I'm not asking for your consent. I have already asked Greer to marry me and she said yes. But it will mean everything to her to have your approval. I promise you Joseph I will take care of her and love her until time is no more.” Lexie felt the hand she held tighten around her own.

“Pro-tk hur Lax.”


Joseph had known Lexie his entire life and trusted her like no other. When she had started seeing Greer he could easily see how much the woman loved his daughter. He had never found out where Lexie had come from or what she was, but he did know that her capacity to do good seemed to have no limits and her loyalty and devotion to a person or cause was unwavering. From the moment Greer had met Lexie she had come alive in a way Joseph had never seen her before. Lexie was everything Joseph could want for his daughter, but most of all she made Greer happy and that was all that truly mattered. Nodding at the woman who had been the one constant in his life, Joseph blinked away the tears that had sprung up in his eyes.

Lexie could hear the front door slamming shut immediately followed by the sound of running feet on the stairs. Only one person would have the nerve to do that and Lexie quickly brushed away the tears from Joseph's cheeks. She settled back into the cushions and gave the old man a wink just before a very excited Greer burst through the door.

Seeing her father and girlfriend sitting together holding hands brought Greer to a halt. Two innocent smiling faces looked up at her and she immediately knew something was up. “Lexie? What are you doing here?”

“I needed to see Joseph about a very important matter.”

Greer stood there looking between the two and wonder what now.

“Ohm er.” Joseph beckoned to his daughter.

Stepping forward, Greer knelt down in front of her father, curious as to what had him looking so serious. She watched as he reached out taking her hand and placing it on Lexie's. Her eyes widened as she looked up into bright blue eyes.

“I told your father that I have asked you to marry me and I asked for his blessing.” Lexie smiled down at her.

Greer looked into her father's eyes and could see the love he had for her. He patted the top of her hand and spoke very carefully. “Luv ech otter nn be ap-e.” It was the most he had spoken to her at one time since the stroke and Greer felt her breath catch in her throat.

“Thank you Papa.” Greer wrapped the frail man in her arms, as she could not stop the tears that fell onto her cheeks. They held each other for a long time until Mrs. Stark walked in and found the three of them in a group hug.

“Oh lordy, what's happened now.”

Three heads popped up and turned her way in unison. Greer jumped up and ran over to the woman who had been as much a mother to her as her own had been. Holding out her hand with the ring on it she exclaimed. “Lexie and I are getting married.”

The woman was so taken by surprise she opened her mouth to speak but no sound came out. Which delighted Joseph to no end. Hearing his gleeful noise she suddenly found her voice again. “Oh my little one, I'm so happy for you.”

“Mrs. Stark.” Lexie said as she slid up and wrapped an arm around the woman's ample waist. “Pull out your best frock, we are all going out to celebrate tonight.” Noticing for the first time someone was missing she asked. “Where's Ginny?”

“Oh, she had to go pick up Joseph's prescriptions, she should be back soon.” The flustered housekeeper said as she tried to regain her composure.

“Well, tell her to be ready at seven. There will be a car here to pick you all up.” Lexie looked over to Joseph who seemed to be sitting a little taller in his seat with a bit of color to his cheeks. “It's a night worth celebrating.” He nodded his approval to her and she knew she had done the right thing.


In the course of Lexie's long life the one thing she had found was that the simplest day-to-day things that we all take for granted were what made a truly rich life. Great moments, adventures and the spectacular were memorable and spiced up your life, but nothing could compare to the comfort and happiness of relaxing with friends. Hanging out and laughing or perhaps providing a shoulder of support had come to mean everything to Lexie. Her cast and crew knew they could count on her and go to her for anything, despite her being absent from them so often. And now after over two thousand years she was learning again how much joy family could be.

It still remained that the fewer people who knew about her life the better. But those who had known Lexie the longest had noticed the slight change in the way she interacted with them. She was becoming a little less guarded with her feelings. Where before Lexie had kept herself distanced from them, she now seemed closer. And all of this had started after Greer had shown up in a theatre one day and forced herself into Lexie's life.

There were a great many changes happening in her life all at the same time. Since the incident with the mage and her meeting Gaia, Lexie had begun to discover exactly who she was and what she was capable of doing. All of her life she had refused to give in to the powers that came with being a member of her family. Always choosing to do things her own way. One moment had changed all of that. The moment Lexie realized Greer's life was threatened she let go of her resistance and embraced that which had always been inside her. She saved Greer and in a way Greer had saved her. And with a new inner strength unlike any Lexie had ever felt before she came to the decision that no matter what, if Greer chose to live an eternity with her or the lifespan she was given, Lexie would love her and rejoice in having found her soulmate.

By the time they played Madrid the tour had been running smoothly with no major interruptions. She only had to leave once to deal with a troll that had been forced from his home in the rugged and remote mountains of Lapland . Progress and the human population were once again forcing the people of her world out. Hiding places were getting harder to find for those who could not blend in. And while she understood the troll's anger, she would not allow him to lash out on the people who could not begin to comprehend his existence. Lexie wondered, not for the first time, if the two worlds would ever be able to live together as they once had.

After Madrid the company moved on to San Sebastian and Lexie decided to throw a little party for her hard working team. Despite the late hour after their Sunday performance she had everyone shuttled to the beach where they found an open sided tent with catering, a band and an open bar. Several hammocks had been put up on the beach not far from the party and the sound of lapping waves provided the perfect accompaniment to the music that drifted out from the tent. Despite the free alcohol and a night off the following day, no one seemed to overindulge too much making for a pleasant night of eating, drinking, dancing and companionship.

Around two in the morning the band packed up and Mac switched over to a small sound system she had brought. Most of the partiers still remained and had spread out either sitting in small groups talking or slow dancing. A few had gone down to the waters edge and could be heard laughing and splashing around. The catering crew had finished and only one bartender remained after receiving a lucrative enticement.

Grabbing a Scotch, Mac made her way to a hammock that was nestled perfectly between the party and the water. A full moon sat fat in the sky casting a silvery glow across the water and sand. From her reclining position Mac could just make out the shadowy outline of her best friend and her best friend's girl as they settled much further down the beach and sat looking out over the water. Since Greer had come into their lives Mac had seen more changes in Lexie than she thought would never happen. And in her opinion all the changes had been for the better. As she watched the two figures sitting close together she could not help the feeling that something big was about to happen.



A warm gentle breeze blew off the water as slow rolling waves lapped up on the beach. They had walked hand in hand along the waters edge until the sound of music could barely be heard. With no other people around they stretched out on the sand and enjoyed the peace and calm that now surrounded them. Lexie dug her toes into the sand and delighted in watching the way the moonlight glowed off of Greer's honey blonde hair. Greer watched the waves slide up the beach and then disappear into the sand. The movement soothing as much as the feel of the warm body pressed against her side, it all combined to give Greer a sense of comfort she never wanted to loose.

They sat for the longest time without speaking. The sound of waves on the beach and palm fronds rustling in the wind had replaced the music of earlier and neither wanted to disturb the peace they had found. Finally after twenty minutes Greer pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. She rested her head atop her arms and watched Lexie. Who at the loss of warmth by her side had stretched back her arms and propped herself up to happily stare back at a perfectly content and relaxed Greer.

Moments passed until Greer broke the silence. “Everyone always says that they knew they had found true love because they would loose themselves in the person they loved. But I don't feel that way with you.” Lexie did not move or breath, wondering if Greer had finally come to her senses and decided she did not want to be a part of Lexie's crazy life. Greer lifted her head just a little. “With you I feel like I have found myself.” Lexie took in a ragged breath, but remained still, sensing that Greer was not finished. Greer rested her head on her knees again. “And I feel like I am only just beginning. I'm not sure eternity is long enough or the universe is big enough to express the love I have for you. But I'd like to spend forever trying.”

Lexie sat up and tried to take a deep breath but could not. She was afraid she might have misunderstood what Greer was telling her. Everything she had hoped for seemed to be in front of her and Lexie was terrified she had misheard. “Meaning?” Lexie barely managed to whisper.

Sitting up and draping one leg over Lexie's lap Greer could not believe the vulnerability she was seeing in those bright blue eyes. “Meaning if you are willing I would like to take Gaia up on her offer.” She placed both hands on either side of the small trembling jaw. “I want to spend the rest of time by your side because I think the best is yet to come. Do you think you could handle that? Me?”

Lexie smiled as her breathing became easier. “I look forward to it.” Leaning closer she captured the lips of her lover, her soulmate, and gave her the most passionate kiss Greer had ever known.


The weeks that followed became unimaginably busy, as Lexie was called in by a pack of werewolves about a new vampyre that popped up in a remote village in Croatia . The pack had lived there peacefully for over a century, having adapted their hunting to only the wild animals of the forest. But the arrival of a new vampyre who was angry and confused about what was happening to him and lashing out at the easiest kills, humans, was causing the situation to become dangerous for everyone. The pack never drew attention their way, but now the mysterious deaths were causing a growing unease and every member of the village was being scrutinized with suspicion.

Once Lexie tracked down the person responsible and saw how young he was she tried talking to him, because when she looked into his eyes she saw not the crazed look of a maniacal killer, but a frightened boy who could not control what was happening to him. She spoke to him in a gentle non-threatening manner as one would to a child and soon found the cause of his rampage. His parents had died when he was just a baby and he grew up in an orphanage with no one to explain to him about the DNA mutation he carried inside. In his teens now his condition had matured and the boy was learning the hard way about himself. Lexie did not want to have to kill this kid for something he could not control, he needed help and she needed Marcus.

Lexie called Mac to let her know she would be longer than expected, then called Greer to let her know she would not be home for a while. Lexie had managed to capture the boy and had him locked inside a bedroom of the alpha's house waiting for Marcus to arrive that night. In the mean time she sat guard over her prisoner and listened to him yell and threaten her until he wore himself out and finally fell asleep.

While she waited Lana, mate of the alpha Mandrel, fixed the three of them a meal and they sat talking until Marcus knocked on the door. When Lana opened the door she was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful vampyre that walked into her house. Lexie looked to Mandrel, knowing how possessive and territorial alphas could be. She was impressed that the man only smiled and shook his head at his mates open admiration of the beautiful man. The vampyre was without a doubt a looker and over the years Lexie had witnessed many people's reactions to meeting him and they were all the same. His looks went a long way in calming people when meeting him and he used it to his advantage. Mandrel was no fool and knew Lana loved beautiful things in all forms, but he had nothing to worry about.

As Marcus introduced himself to his hosts Lexie noticed a strain in his eyes and set to his jaw that she felt had nothing to do with the rogue newbie vampyre. When he finally addressed her she knew something was wrong. But since he was asking to see the boy she would have to wait to find out what was causing such stress for her friend.

Marcus insisted on seeing the boy alone so she, Lana and Mandrel sat in the living room and tried to make small talk. Failing miserably, Lexie began pacing around the room. She had every faith Marcus could help, but there was something about his eyes that had her worried. She had seen stress in them, no, distress. Marcus was worried about something and that could never be good.

Nearly an hour and a half later the bedroom door opened and Marcus led a very subdued young man out. “We have had a long talk and Galen has decided,” Marcus pointedly looked down at the young man, “very wisely, to come with me. He will be staying at my home until he has a better understanding of what life holds for him.”

Relief could be seen on the faces of the alpha and his mate. “Thank you for helping us, for helping Galen, I am sure he will have a much better life now.” Mandrel said as he offered the vampyre his hand.

Marcus allowed a small smile to slip out as he looked at the boy. “Quite possibly a greater life then he could have ever imagined. Again, thank you for calling me.” He turned to Lexie and could see the suspicion in her eyes, she knew something was wrong and was waiting for him to explain. “Lexie, perhaps you should stop in to see Paulie. Soon.”

Before Lexie could ask any questions Marcus bid his hosts good-bye and ushered Galen out the door. Lexie stood staring after him, her mind was reeling. She did not have to be told what he had meant, she already knew. Paulie was dying. Lexie tried to move but her feet seemed rooted to the spot. She barely heard Lana and Mandrel talking to her, thanking her for solving their problem. Suddenly all the implications of what Marcus had said came crashing down on her.

“I've gotta go.” Lexie said a little too quickly as she looked around and grabbed her jacket. The two werewolves stood watching her and wondering what had caused the small woman to suddenly panic. “Sorry, glad everything worked out, but I've got someone else to take care of, right away.” Lexie was out the door as she yelled good-bye and then disappeared.

An instant later she reappeared in Paulie's bedroom only to find it empty. Lexie wasted no time in rushing down to the doctor's study. She stopped at the open doorway. The sight of a much paler Paulie asleep on the sofa with an open journal laying across her stomach caused Lexie to take a moment and watch the book rise up and down with each breath the small woman took to reassure her the body was still alive.

Quietly she stepped inside and closed the door behind her. Moving over to Paulie she gently lifted the journal from the light grip and placed it on the table beside the sofa. Lexie sat on the edge of the cushion and took the hand of one of her dearest friends into her own. The light touch caused Paulie to wake, but instead of being startled she simply smiled up into the blue eyes she had loved for as long as she could remember.

“Hello Pauline.” Lexie whispered.

“Hello Love.” Paulie's eyes crinkled as she smiled. “You come to take me out dancing?”

“Only if you promise to wear that sexy little red number.”

Paulie laughed, but it ended abruptly as she had to take a deep breath. Once she was breathing easier she looked up to see blue eyes filling with unshed tears. “Oh Lexie Love, don't. We knew this day would come.”

“No. Don't Paulie, please. Please.” Lexie had lost more people during her long life than she could count. She had grown accustomed to saying good-bye to friends and loved ones. It was part of life. Mortals were born, they lived, and then they died. It was something she was very familiar and comfortable with. Only, letting go of some was harder than others. And Paulie was one of the rare few.

“Come here Love, lay down with me.” Paulie gently beckoned Lexie as she held out her arms.

Lexie instantly curled herself around her friend and allowed Paulie to comfort her by stroking her hair and rubbing her back. “You can't die Paulie, I'm getting married and you have to be there.” Hands stopped their movements for a moment then Lexie felt rather than heard the small body chuckle.

As the small skilled hands began to move again Paulie kissed the top of Lexie's head. “Don't you worry Lexie I wouldn't miss you getting married for the world. In one form or another I will be there.” The body Paulie held began sobbing so she held tighter. She knew this was going to be hard on her friend and had wanted to spare Lexie the pain of having to watch her grow weaker. She had only planned on calling Lexie at the very end, but apparently Marcus thought otherwise. She was going to have to have a word with him.

The two best friends held each other and cried until they both fell asleep. Lexie woke about an hour later and transported them into Paulie's bed so they would be more comfortable. She shifted enough to pull a blanket over them before settling down, this time holding Paulie in her arms and breathing in the scent of the woman she knew so well.

Just before dawn Lexie woke with a start. She looked down at the pale form that was wrapped around her, still held tightly in her arms. Lexie had been dreaming, she could not put it all together, but something important was nagging at the edge of her consciousness, an idea slowly forming in her mind. Unsure of exactly what she was about to do, but knowing she was willing to take any chance to help her friend, she gently shook the arm that was lying across her stomach.

“Paulie, Paulie wake up, we have to do something.”

One brown eye with gold flecks cracked open and looked up at Lexie. “I don't have the energy Love.” A wicked grin crossed Paulie's tired features.

“Even on death's door your mind is in the gutter.”

“Just keeping you company Love.”

Brushing back the long brown hair off Paulie's cheek, Lexie smiled, how she loved this woman. “No, I have an idea, I don't know if… I…I just need you to do this for me.” Paulie was now looking at her quizzically. “I want you to feed on me.”

“What!” Paulie tried to pull away, but Lexie held her tight. Her eyes were round with shock and she was having trouble forming words. “I don't feed on human flesh.” She said with a steely resolve.

“Then it's a good thing nobody knows what the hell I am.” Paulie tried to get away again. “Would you just listen to me.” Lexie said as she pulled the small vampyre even closer. “Paulie please, I can't explain it, and I don't know if it will help, but it can't hurt and something is telling me to do this, in here.” Lexie pleaded as she placed a hand over her heart.

“It could hurt Lexie, I have always had such strong resistance. Hell I have no desire for fresh blood, but in my weakened state I don't know what I'd do to you. I could hurt you.”

Paulie could not bear to look into those hopeful blues eyes anymore so she looked down at the hand that lay on Lexie's chest. She watched as that same hand reached up and cupped her chin, lifting her face until they were looking into each other's eyes once more.

“You would never hurt me Pauline. I trust you with my life, always have. I love you Pauline.” Tilting her head up, Lexie brought their lips together for a sweet gentle kiss. Before pulling away she deepened the kiss reminding both herself and Paulie of the love they had shared over the centuries. She broke the kiss and smiled at her friend then lay back on the pillows and turned her head to the side. “Feed Paulie, for me. Please.”

Despite her reservations and slight repulsion at the task, Paulie could never deny Lexie anything when she was so sincere. She positioned herself so that she was lying mostly on top of Lexie. With Lexie's arms around her waist, Paulie leaned in and kissed the exposed neck. She could feel the pulse of Lexie's heart under her lips. She sucked and slowly stroked the pulse point with her tongue, feeling Lexie's breath quicken with arousal. The familiar position of their bodies caused her to unconsciously grind her hips into Lexie's just before she bit down and locked her lips on the small neck.

A flood of warmth filled Paulie's mouth as she drank the blood that coursed out of Lexie with every beat of her heart. The rush she got from warm blood coming straight from one body to another was the greatest high Paulie had chosen to forget. She moaned with pleasure at the sensation that was only equivalent to an orgasm. Pleasure spread through every inch of her and she moved against Lexie in rhythm with their hearts that now beat as one. Soon Paulie felt her body reaching up and falling over the edge as she rode the wave of ecstasy that feeding could sometimes bring. Pulling back slightly, she stopped drinking and held her tongue over the punctures in Lexie's throat.

Lexie lay unmoving, still holding onto Paulie and taking deep sated breathes. She was not sure she could describe what had just happened, other than it was unlike anything she had ever experienced before. She could not help wondering that if feeding on humans was that erotic, why would vampires ever give it up? Lexie was vaguely aware of licking on her neck and that being replaced by something soft held to it. “Paulie…” She could barely whisper and could not get her eyes to open.

“I'm right here Love. Sleep, I got you.” Paulie whispered as she rested her forehead against a pale cheek. She had managed to reach behind her and pull a pillowcase free to wrap around Lexie's neck before all her energy fled, leaving her exhausted and quickly slipping into unconsciousness. The last thing Paulie remembered before sleep took her was feeling Lexie tighten her grip on her waist. Safe and sated, Paulie was finally able to rest.

Ten hours later Lexie woke feeling light headed and sore. She could feel Paulie curled up into her side, her head resting on Lexie's chest. Reaching up with a free hand she began stroking the long brown hair that was slightly mussed. After a few strokes her hand stilled, Paulie was not moving. Panic gripped her and she sat up cradling the pale face in her arms. Just as she was about to scream out in anguish she felt a small breath cascade over the back of her arm. Lexie let out a ragged breath and bent down to kiss Paulie's forehead. She was still alive, Lexie did not know if the feeding had done anything other than give them a night they would never forget, but at that moment she was just glad that her best friend was still alive.

The door to the bedroom opened and Marcus stepped in. Lexie looked up at him, too overwrought with emotion to speak. Marcus looked down at the two women, both pale and weak. The white pillowcase around Lexie's neck was red with blood and the woman looked as if she had been through hell. He held out some fresh bandages and Lexie took them with one hand as she gently laid Paulie's head down with the other.

“Lexie, what have you done?” Marcus looked at her, but she could not tell if he were angry or just confused. “I checked in on her when I got home and imagine my surprise to find the two of you in here passed out and bloody.” He waited for an explanation.

Worry and concern poured off the man even though he showed no emotion. Lexie was not up for any long explanations and she was not sure she could give him one anyway. “Let it go Marcus. No harm was done. I would never hurt her.”

“I can see what you did, I just hope you didn't tax her energy too much.” He turned to leave.

“Hey Marcus.” When he stopped and turned back to her, Lexie looked like a little girl. “Do you think it'll work?”

Marcus paused for a moment as he gazed upon his best friend and partner. “I don't know Little One, I don't know.” Before he exited he looked back and gave Lexie a small smile. “I'll bring you some food.”

“Thanks.” Lexie said as she watched him go before turning back to run the backs of her fingers over Paulie's pale cheek.

Twenty minutes later when Marcus returned with a tray of food he found Lexie asleep curled up behind Paulie, arms wrapped around her as if trying to hold her in this life. He put the tray down on the bedside table and picked up the bloody pillowcase that had been discarded when Lexie changed her bandage. Just as he was about to leave he saw Paulie tighten her hand around Lexie's and he thought perhaps there was hope that his small friend may have just pulled off a miracle and given Paulie some more time.

They continued to sleep the day away, Lexie woke once and ate the muffins and bananas off the tray Marcus had left. She drank down two bottles of water then fell back asleep, wrapping herself once again around the sleeping vampyre. It was early evening by the time Paulie began to stir. She half opened her eyes to find her hand cupped around Lexie's breast with her thumb and forefinger holding onto the hardened nipple. Paulie could not take her eyes off the familiar sight and she wondered how they had wound up in this position. Lexie's shirt was pushed up into her armpits so Paulie could hold onto her prize, one leg was draped over her friends hips, while her own hips were pressed into Lexie's side.

Paulie took a deep breath and noticed she felt stronger than she had before Lexie showed up in her study. With her head still resting on Lexie's chest she could hear the strong heartbeat that matched her own. She could feel the blood coursing through her body, the same blood that moved through Lexie. Things had been a little fuzzy when she had first awakened, but now she remembered. She had fed from Lexie; she fed from her best friend. Panic began to rush over her and she started to move away from Lexie's sleeping body.

The arm that was wrapped around her waist tightened and a hand moved up to hold her other hand on the small breast in place. When Paulie looked up blue eyes were gazing back at her. A patch of white caught her eye and she focused on the bandage covering Lexie's neck. The bandage was evidence of what she had done and the sight of it caused her to tremble.

The trembling spread through out Paulie's entire body and Lexie quickly pulled the frightened woman on top of her and forced the frightened brown eyes to look into her own. “Paulie no, don't, it's okay, I'm okay I feel fine.” Lexie spoke gently trying to calm the woman. “Hey you.” She smiled as her eyes took in the slightly flushed face. “You're looking a little better. How do you feel?”

Paulie took a moment to calm her breathing and search Lexie's bright blue eyes for the truth. “Better, rested.” She was ashamed of herself for allowing her weakened condition to cause her to give in to feeding on human flesh, which was a taboo in today's vampyre culture. She could no longer look Lexie in the eye as tears began to fill her own.

Holding tight with one arm, Lexie gently guided Paulie's face back in front of her own. She knew this would be hard on Paulie, but she did not care if it meant she had given Paulie a little more time in this life. “Hey, none of that. I know what you're thinking Pauline and I won't stand for it. I came to you, I wanted this and I don't regret any of it and neither will you. Do you understand me?”

“Oh Lexie, I…”

Before Paulie could make any excuses Lexie brought their lips together in a firm kiss. When she pulled back she looked deep into Paulie's eyes. “You're my best friend Paulie and I'm not ready to lose you. So from now on when your check engine light comes on you come to me, got it.”

One side of Paulie's mouth quirked up at the stern and demanding tone of the small woman beneath her. She was feeling stronger and knew that Lexie had been right. She did not know how long it would last, but for now she felt like she had been given a gift. “You're very bossy you know that?” She would have to reconcile her taking from a human on her own time because Lexie had made it clear that she was not letting go of Paulie anytime soon, whatever it took.

A rumble came from deep in Paulie's stomach and due to their positions caused a tickle in Lexie's stomach. Paulie seemed shocked that such a noise had come from her, but Lexie had only laughed. “Seems like my blood has given you my appetite. You up for going to the kitchen or do you want me to bring something back here?”

Paulie had never been much of a big eater, but she had seen Lexie polish off an entire week's worth of food in one sitting when she was recovering from an injury. She was starving now and had the energy to get up, but did not want to see anyone just yet. As if reading her mind Lexie gently slid the brunette off her body and got out of bed. “Why don't you take a nice hot shower and I will go down and see what I can put together. I'll bring it back and we can have breakfast in bed.”

The relief on Paulie's face was answer enough. As Lexie turned to go she remembered the bandage on her neck and reached up pulling it off she turned back to Paulie. “Here, how do I look?” After all she was in a house of vampires, it would do her no good to walk around with a bloody bandage around her neck, regardless of rules or taboos, temptation was never a good idea.

Two bright pink marks were the only sign of what Paulie had done. “You're fine as always, but try not to let the others get a good look at you.”

There were a multitude of reasons why the others in the house should not see the marks, but the only one that mattered to her was how it was affecting Paulie. Looking around Lexie grabbed a silk scarf from the dresser and tied it in a jaunty knot around her throat before heading out.

Half an hour later she entered the room with a large tray of food. Marcus carrying another tray as equally laden with wonderfully smelling food followed her in. Paulie had stayed in the shower as long as she could before turning into a prune and now sat propped up on the bed by a mountain of pillows. Her face was pink and shinny and her hair hung down her back still damp from being freshly scrubbed. She had a big fluffy blue robe wrapped tightly around her and fuzzy socks on her feet. When Lexie walked in she smiled at the sight of the small doctor looking vastly better then she had when she first arrived.

The trays were placed upon the bed and delicious aromas filled the room. Marcus moved to Paulie's side and placed a gentle kiss on top of her damp head. “You are looking much better Paulie. How do you feel?”

“I feel good, better, different.” A raised eyebrow was directed at her and she quickly tried to explain. “It's, I'm not sure I can explain it, but it's as if someone has taken a tuning fork and touched it to my entire body, like my blood is humming, but not in a bad way.” She looked up at the man she had known for centuries and gave him a shrug. Paulie's stomach decided to take that moment to make itself known again, just in case she had forgotten what she was suppose to be doing. Amusement briefly crossed Marcus's face as he looked down at her. “You better hurry up and tuck in if you have any chance at getting something, I've seen the way Lexie eats.”

“Excuse me. I have a high metabolism.” Lexie defended her eating habits. She crawled up on the end of the bed and opened a bottle of water, handing it to Paulie. “You need to drink a lot as well.”

This time Marcus really did laugh. “You two try and stay out of trouble.” He kissed Paulie's head one more time before moving to the door. “I have a young boy to whom I must attend to, Lexie be sure to say good-bye before you leave.”

The door closed behind him and Lexie knew that was Marcus's way of letting her know he wanted a word with her about what happened. The two women grinned at each other as they dug in to the feast before them. Lexie had raided the kitchen and with Marcus's help managed to fix them garden omelets, a steak for Paulie, pasta, veggies, some kind of casserole, dinner rolls, corn on the cob and a pie. Luckily the kitchen here was always well stocked due to the number of people that came through on a daily basis and there was always an abundance of leftovers in the fridge.

Chewing was the only sound that could be heard for the first five minutes. Then Paulie finally felt the edge of her hunger ease off a little. “So Lex, what exactly are you going to tell Greer about your visit.”

The question surprised Lexie; she was expecting Paulie to ask about what she would tell Marcus. “The truth. I don't intend to keep anything from Greer.”

Paulie's brow furrowed with worry. “So how pissed is she going to be at me?”

Lexie stopped eating and looked at her friend, seeing the insecurity in her eyes. “Sweetie, Greer understands that there are a lot of things she doesn't understand. If it meant saving you, even for a little while, she won't care that you fed from me. Greer knows how important you are to me.”

“I'm not talking about that. I mean we didn't have sex, but we might as well have.” Paulie blushed just a little at the memory of her body's response to feeding from Lexie.

Lexie smiled and took one of Paulie's hands in her own. “Oh, that. I think that when I fully explain everything to her she will understand. She may not be pleased about it, but she will understand.” Lifting the small hand to her mouth Lexie gave a light kiss to the knuckles. “I love you Paulie, but Greer is my soulmate, she makes me whole in a way I have never known before. And even though I can experience pleasure with you, it takes nothing away from what I feel for Greer.”

“That doesn't mean she won't want to scratch my eyes out.”

Lexie kissed the delicate fingertips again before letting go. “Not if we made sure she's there the next time.”

Paulie's face reflected her shock and surprise before breaking into a grin. “You kinky little bugger you! There will be no orgies in here thank you.”

“Awe come on, you know you want to, you know you would enjoy it. But I'm the only one you get to feed from.”

A roll bounced off Lexie's forehead as Paulie went back to her food after delivering the blow. “I somehow think your future wife would not appreciate you pimping her out like this.” Paulie took a long drink of water before demanding Lexie pass the pie.

Handing the pie and a fork over to Paulie, Lexie smiled as the small woman dug in without giving her a second glance. There had been no protests about Paulie feeding off her again and for the moment Lexie felt relief. She did not know what kind of effect her blood was going to have on Paulie. It seemed right now that it was giving her strength and perhaps heightening her senses a little, but as far as extending her life, only time would tell. And if she had to feed Paulie once a week, once a month, or once a year it did not matter, she would be there for as long as Paulie would let her.


Nightshadows was on the move again so Lexie took advantage of the down time the company would have in setting up in a new location. She stayed with Paulie three more days and watched the woman grow stronger until by the time she left Paulie resembled her old self again. Before leaving Lexie met with Marcus privately to discuss her rash decision.

“You can't seriously be angry.” Lexie stood rigidly as she looked Marcus in the eye trying to ward off any lecture he had planned.

Marcus held her gaze for a few moments before sighing and taking a seat. “I'm not angry Lexie, but you took a risk feeding Paulie in this house. Several risks.” He truly was not angry with her, but nearly loosing Paulie and discovering what Lexie had done had unsettled him. It was a possibility he would have never thought of. “Putting aside the danger you put the both of you in, you still have to remember you are in a house of vampyre, some of whom are very new still. You are just lucky most of them are used to the smell of your blood.”

Narrowing her eyes, Lexie wondered what it was that was really bothering her friend. “Your people have excellent control, I have never feared a feeding frenzy here and I still don't. So what's really going on?”

It was true, no one in his house would think twice about the smell of fresh blood. Marcus nodded his head in acquiescence. “You're right Lexie. And I am not mad; you saved Paulie's life. We will just have to wait and see what the results of your action will do to her. I personally hope she will be around for many more years; she's my best friend and the smartest woman I know. But we don't know what your blood is going to do to her. Let's face it, you are a little different from other people.”

“I'm no different from anyone else in my family.” Lexie smiled to lighten the mood.

The handsome man returned her smile. “True, I'm not sure I could handle meeting a whole clan of you.” His attention was drawn momentarily to a figurine on his mantel of a phoenix. “Lexie, I trust you to do whatever is in Paulie's best interest. Whether you have given her a few months, years or centuries, I know you will look out for her, but I think it best if this incident remain between the three of us. If your blood has the power to sustain life and word gets out, well I worry for your safety.”

Lexie watched Marcus as he kept a tight control over the emotions that lay just under the surface and wondered if he ever just let go. She knew what he was trying to say though, if the vampyre community knew her blood could help them live longer she would be in danger of becoming a drive thru diner. And others would not have the control Paulie had. “Agreed, except I will be telling Greer what happened.” She saw the objection on his lips and raised a hand to halt him. “Greer is about to become my wife and I will keep no secrets from her”

The surprise was evident on Marcus' face. “Little One can it be that someone has finally reached inside there and found you?” Lexie rolled her eyes at Marcus' sappy sentimental side. “I am happy for you. And it will be just the four of us then with this knowledge.”

Satisfied they had come to an understanding Lexie started to leave then slowly turned to face her old friend once more. “What about you Marcus?” He raised an eyebrow at her. “One day it will be you dying. Will you want to taste my blood?”

He gave Lexie a sad smile and leaned back in his chair. “I have had a long and wonderful life, not always easy, but certainly exceptional. I am very comfortable with the idea that one day in the not too distant future I will cease to be. I am not afraid of dying Lexie.”

“The offer stands to you and always to Paulie.”

“I appreciate the offer, but unlike Pauline who has her work and you, I do not have as much in my life as I once did. I accepted my death long ago.”

“Do you think I took that choice away from Paulie?”

“No. Pauline has a love of life and learning like no other. If she had not wanted it deep down you could not have forced her.”

Lexie thought about this for a moment then nodded and without another word left. She knew she had been selfish in wanting to keep Paulie alive, but she would not apologize for it.



The week Lexie spent in Paris was an opportunity for Greer to put into action a surprise she had been planning. The couple had been splitting their time between Joseph's house and Lexie's since they started dating, but with the upcoming nuptials Greer decided that arrangement was not going to work. As much as she worried about her father, she also knew he was in good hands with Ginny and Mrs. Stark and Lexie's place was only across town. After getting the call that Lexie would not be back for a few days, Greer hired a van and moved all her things into Lexie's house. They had talked briefly about living arrangements and Lexie was willing to keep sleeping at Joseph's if it gave Greer peace of mind. And while she loved Lexie for that, she was also ready to move on with her life. Her father was doing well and she was about to start a whole new life with Lexie.

On the day Lexie returned she was surprised to find Greer in her kitchen making a shopping list. Not wanting to scare the beautiful blonde who was seriously examining her cabinets, Lexie cleared her throat. Greer startled at the sound and turned to find her lover standing in the doorway with a huge grin.

Greer launched herself at the smaller woman while exclaiming “Lexie!”

Easily catching the taller woman as two long legs were wrapped around her waist, Lexie found herself being kissed senseless. “Wow.” Lexie managed between kisses. “If this is…how I'm…welcomed home I…have to …go a…way more…often.”

Greer finally pulled back with a goofy grin as she wrapped her arms around Lexie's neck. “I've missed you.”

“Well I missed you too.”

“And I have a surprise for you, but first how is Paulie? You said she was really sick.”

Lexie walked over to the sofa and sat down, arranging Greer in her lap since the woman had yet to let go of her neck. “She was. In fact she was dying.”

“Dying?” Greer could feel the seriousness of the situation, which Lexie had not referred to before. “Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry. Wait you said ‘was' dying, is she okay now?”

Not sure how to begin Lexie started from the beginning and went through every detail that had happened. She told Greer exactly what she experienced when Paulie fed on her and that while she could not stop the sensations her body had gone through it was not the same as having sex with Paulie. Lexie watched as Greer tried to process what she had done. When the blonde tried to slide off her lap Lexie held her in place.

“Please Greer, when I got there I was so worried about Paulie, I've never seen her look that weak before. And I didn't know that feeding could be so erotic, but my only thought was saving Paulie's life and I would do it again if she needed me. We don't know how long it will last, but for now she is doing great. She's my best friend and I can't lose her.”

The sad look on Lexie's face reminded Greer just how many friends this woman had lost in her lifetime. She knew Lexie did not cheat on her and that there were still so many things she did not understand about Lexie's world. The fact that Lexie had told her everything knowing that she might get really angry told her that Lexie was willing to lay her life bare for Greer. And while the thought of Lexie and Paulie together in any sort of way made her a little jealous, Greer sought to look past that and see the good that had come of it. “I'm glad Paulie is better. And I don't want you to think I'm saying this is okay, but you might have to do this again right?”

Lexie slowly nodded her head, a worried look still in her eyes. So far she was impressed at how well Greer was handling this. Then green eyes met her own and narrowed. “Right, so next time you have to give a transfusion I want to be there. Nobody's getting kinky with my wife without me there to make sure things do not get out of hand. Understand?”

A smile spread across Lexie's face as she pulled the blonde head closer capturing the pouting lips with her own and letting Greer know just how much she loved her. Greer finally had to pull back for air, but the sparkle in her eyes was back as she took one of Lexie's hands in her own.

“I have a surprise for you too and I hope it is not as much of a shock as yours was.”

“I'm sorry Greer I didn't…”

“No.” Greer silenced Lexie with a brief kiss. “That's not what this relationship is going to be about. Don't be sorry for doing what's right. I want us to be about life and love and doing the right thing. You have been doing that your whole life, looking out for people who don't even know what you do for them. I want to be a part of that. And I knew when I met you that I was going to have to change the way I see a few things and I'm okay with that because you are worth it, this is worth it.” The kiss that followed was sweet and tender and full of promise.

“You are the most amazing woman and I want to see this surprise of yours, but first I want to change clothes, I've been wearing this for a week.” Lexie headed for the bedroom.

This had worked out better than Greer planned. Lexie was about to walk right into the middle of her surprise. Quietly Greer followed Lexie down the hall and stopped in the door waiting for a reaction.

Moving through the room with the intent purpose of changing and getting back to Greer Lexie did not notice anything different, but when she entered her closet, pulling off her shirt and reaching for another one, she was surprised to pull out one of Greer's shirts. Her attention was finally caught and she looked around the small space noticing that all of her clothes had been moved to one side and a whole different wardrobe hung on the other side. Stepping out she looked around her bedroom and saw the unused nightstand now held a book, an alarm clock, a notepad, a couple of pens and a bottle of lotion that Greer used on her hands every night. Her eyes roamed around the room and noticed a few subtle changes, touches of Greer. Finally her eyes settled on the woman leaning on the doorframe.

When intense blue eyes met bright green, Greer suddenly became nervous that Lexie was not happy with what she had done. She swallowed as Lexie approached her with no hint of emotion in her eyes.

Lexie stopped mere inches from Greer's nose. “There seems to have been some changes around here since I've been away.” Lexie held up the light pink blouse that she would never be caught dead in. Although getting Greer out of it had become a favorite pastime.

Greer tried once again to read Lexie's reaction, but was still unsure. “Surprise.” She said hoping she had not moved too fast in her choice. “I'm going to be getting my mail here now.” She gave Lexie a small unsure smile.

One thing Lexie hated was not being in control of her life. She looked deep into Greer's eyes for several long moments then leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “Thank you.” She wrapped Greer into a tight hug. Relieved, the taller woman melted into the strong arms that she intended to spend eternity in.


After the last performance of Nightshadows in Berlin , the entire troupe took Lexie out to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. Only Mac would be in attendance at the wedding, so this was the opportunity for her cast and crew to share her happiness and any excuse for a party was all right by them.

Mac reserved a private room at a popular nightclub and arranged the caterer. She had invited Greer down, but the counselor declined saying it should be a night for Lexie and her crew. The two old friends walked to the club where the party was already in full swing. Lexie enjoyed relaxing and cutting loose with just her company members, and on this night she did just that. Laughter, dance and merriment became the priority of the evening and everyone was reminded of why they all made such a great team.

The club was crowded, but the dancers managed to occupy the center of the dance floor for the entire night. Several times throughout the night Lexie found herself being thrown through the air as she somersaulted around the floor. The other club goers were caught up in the groups' good time and the whole nightclub became one big party.

It was inevitable that Mac would try and embarrass Lexie at least once during the night. Somehow she never seemed to learn her lesson from the previous times this course of action had backfired on her.

Most of their group were well on their way to being heavily intoxicated when a very drunk Mac grabbed Lexie and pulled her to the center of their private room, calling for everyone's attention.

“Alright, quiet down you lot.” Mac tightened her grip on Lexie's shoulders. “Tonight we are here to kick off a well deserved break after a very successful first half tour.” Lexie looked at Mac as if she were speaking a different language. “And to celebrate the fact that someone is crazy enough to want to spend their life with this little monkey.” Lexie raised an eyebrow at Mac and narrowed her eyes as Mac grinned and raised her glass. “To Greer, the most courageous woman on the planet.” Before taking a sip of her drink, Mac raised her glass even higher. “And to my best friend, she's short, she's scrawny, hasn't see the proper side of a hair brush in years. Exactly how did you end up with a beautiful woman like Greer? Must have her under some kind of spell is all I ca…”

Lexie reached up and grabbed Mac by the head then pulled her down to plant a big kiss on her rambling best friend. When she pulled away Mac stood there blushing and blinking. Once again Lexie had managed to turn the tables on Mac, she took the tall woman's drink and laughed as she made her way through the crowd to dance with Beck's and her husband. Finally recovering, Mac watched Lexie get swallowed up by the sea of people who all wanted to wish her well. She chuckled to herself, Lexie may be getting married, but things would always be the same between them.



Most young girls dreamed of the day they would get married, Lexie was not young and not just any girl. She left the planning of the wedding up to Greer with the only stipulation that it be only family. So Athena stepped in to assist her soon to be daughter in law. The Goddess of Wisdom found a private garden where they could hold the ceremony and reception while Greer arranged the caterer.

In the pre-dawn of the day before the wedding Paulie showed up with the suits Lexie had made for her and Mac. Designed by the house of Cardin, it was a one of a kind suit for a one of a kind person. The few people who knew of the impending marriage were doing everything they could to make it the most unforgettable and special day for both Greer and Lexie. Paulie also carried a dress of her own, to stand by Greer's side during the ceremony. Greer had asked Harry, but he was in the middle of a case and as the head crown prosecutor he could not get away, but he did promise her the biggest party Aveley had ever seen when she and Lexie were touring in London in a few months. And when asked to stand by Greer's side, Paulie had eagerly accepted with moist eyes.

A whirl of activity seemed to have taken over at the studio as last minute details were seen to, but everything came to a halt with the arrival of a small golden light that grew and then faded, revealing the tall and proud Mother Earth herself. Bright blue eyes immediately found Lexie as Gaia smiled at her granddaughter and held out her hand, she turned her eyes to find Greer, holding out her other hand to the young blonde. The two women respectfully drew closer and took the offered hands as Athena stepped up to join them.

Gaia smiled at her daughter in law as she held onto Lexie and Greer. “Athena, I have a wedding present for my granddaughter and her bride. Would you mind looking after things for a little while?”

“Of course Gaia, everything is as it should be.”

“We'll be back shortly.” Gaia said as the three women disappeared into golden light.

With the blink of an eye Greer went from being in the studio to standing in the most beautiful garden she had ever seen. She looked around at the ancient trees and flowering plants, and marveled at their beauty. She noticed all sorts of wildlife meandering about, not bothered by the humans who had just appeared. Before she could say anything her attention was brought back to the woman who was still holding her hand.

“Greer, I want to welcome you into our family and thank you for making our little Lexie so very happy.” Gaia smiled warmly at Greer before releasing her hand and walking over to a small table that held a pitcher of golden liquid and three glasses. She took a seat and gestured for the two younger women to join her.

For several moments Gaia sat back and watched her guests. Greer was nervous and sat quietly trying not to make eye contact with her host, as Lexie relaxed into her seat, all the while taking in all of her surroundings and strategizing attack plans should it become necessary. Noticing the calculating eye Lexie was casting around, Greer elbowed her in the side and indicated with her eyes that she should be paying attention to her grand mother.

The laugh that erupted from Gaia because of her action was a sound Greer thought she could listen to all day. “It's okay Greer, Lexie is just doing what comes naturally to her. I would be disappointed if she weren't surviving the place in case of battle.” The tall woman met her granddaughter's raised eyebrow with one of her own. She understood Lexie all too well, even thought they had only met as family once. Gaia had followed her family closely and was very proud of how each had turned out. Through out the years she would visit Artemis, Athena and Lexie in the guise of a complete stranger, sometimes friend and sometimes challenger. She had given the world a daughter, a great warrior, and in turn Artemis had given the world a daughter and the greatest warrior it had yet to know. This thought both pleased and saddened Gaia. She was proud of Lexie not just for her skills with a sword, but because she was truly a good person, kind and caring with the intelligence and heart to protect the world.

As Gaia gazed into Lexie's bright blue eyes that held just a touch of grey she felt certain this woman, her granddaughter, could handle the danger that was coming, in fact she bet her life on it.

“Your instincts are good little one. Listen to your heart and follow what you know. There is a time coming, very soon, when the fate of the world will rely on your instincts.” A raised eyebrow was all the response Gaia received from her granddaughter and she was glad to know the child did not rush forward with questions. “You don't seem surprised at such a statement.”

“Why should I? I learned a long time ago that the unexpected was always just a blink away.” Lexie reached over and took Greer's hand in hers and gave her soon to be life long partner a reassuring smile. “But life goes on and we deal with whatever comes our way.” She held to Greer as she returned her attention back to Gaia. “That's not to say a heads up would not be appreciated, so if you have any information…” Lexie gestured with her free hand for her grandmother to proceed.

A light breeze blew through the garden, bringing with it the fresh scent of spring. Gaia picked up the pitcher and began filling the three glasses. “Unfortunately I have no information to pass along, just a feeling. But it is a feeling I have not had since before the great war.” Gaia knew she now had Lexie's undivided attention. “Something is coming, it is far away, but it steadily approaches.” She did not hand out the refreshment yet, but held Lexie's gaze. “They were banished, not imprisoned. Given a chance to start a new world of their own, one they could rule without our interference. But Kronos does not forget and I fear he will have his revenge.” Gaia's face softened as she placed a glass in front of each of her guests. “Lets not think of such things now, that time will come. Now is the time for celebration.” Lifting her crystal goblet in a toast, Gaia cast her eyes to Greer. “My dear Greer, you have found your soulmate in Lexie and have chosen her to be your mate. Is it your will to stand by her side for all of eternity?”

A lump caught in Greer's throat as she held her glass up. “Yes, for all eternity until the end of time.”

Now it was Lexie's turn to have those intense and yet loving eyes upon her. “And my own Lexie, is it your will to have Greer by your side for all of eternity?”

“She is my other half, without her I am not complete. I chose her now and for all eternity.” Lexie raised her glass, joining the other two.

“Then so it shall be. Greer release your mortal ties and embrace immortality.” With that Gaia clinked their glasses together and a golden light as bright as the sun emanated from the liquid. As the glasses parted the light died down to a soft glow and the three women drank until all three glasses were empty.

As Greer set her glass upon the table she felt lightheaded and began to swoon. Lexie caught her before she could pass out and held her close. The small woman looked to her grandmother with suspicion.

“Do not worry my little one, she will be fine. I would however suggest a nap, let her sleep until she awakes and then enjoy a very long life together.”

Lexie brushed a few blonde strands away that had fallen over the green eyes that were looking drunkenly happy. She placed a soft kiss on Greer's forehead and whispered. “I will always be here, I won't let anything happen to you.”

A silly grin spread across Greer's face. “I love you Lexie. Did we just get married?”

“Consider it the elopement before the wedding.” Lexie grinned back at her. Looking across at the Great Mother Lexie could feel the power of the woman who all held in such reverence and bowed her head in thanks. “We are forever in your debt Gaia, thank you.”

Gaia stood and walked around the table, she kneeled and wrapped her arms around both Lexie and Greer's shoulders. “There is no debt my daughters. Love each other, protect each other, and make the world a better and safer place just as you always have. Now you two get some rest, you have a big day tomorrow. And Lexie, I have faith in you, you are our greatest protector and the strength you need will come from her.” Gaia gently caressed Greer's head. “Believe in it and nothing can stop you.” She placed a kiss upon each head and sent the two women back to their home to rest. Their wedding would be full of excitement and joy, a ceremony of love and happiness for their friends and family, but the two were already bonded in a way no exchanging of vows could ever achieve.



After tucking Greer into bed and making sure she was comfortable, Lexie went in search of her mom only to be shooed away. Before she could protest Mac grabbed one arm while Paulie locked onto the other and quick as a flash, Lexie was hauled off to Mac's rooms. The day had already proved exhausting so Lexie was relieved to find herself relaxing with her two best buds and a few bottles of the best wine France had to offer. They traveled down memory lane and had a laugh or two at Lexie's expense as the three friends talked well into the evening. And by the time the wine ran out Lexie could feel the full weight of her eyelids. Mac was very familiar with the tell tale signs of Lexie's exhaustion and without warning she scooped the smaller woman up in her arms and carried her back to her own bed.

Seeing Greer fast asleep upon entering the room, Mac made sure not to make any noise. She placed Lexie on the bed and waited for her to shed her clothes then held the covers up so her friend could slide in and snuggle up with her bride. She took a moment to retrieve a few bottles of water and placed them on Lexie's bedside table. After all if she was responsible for getting Lex drunk she could at least make it a little easier for her in the morning.

Just as Mac was about to leave Lexie cracked one eye open causing her to stop. “Thanks Mac, for everything.” Lexie smiled at her then went back to sleep.

Mac stood for a moment watching the person who had changed her life in ways she had never dreamed possible. “Anytime.” Then she left the two women to their slumber and hurried back to the exciting little vampyre waiting in her room.


The day was finally upon them, a day Lexie had never dreamed would happen to her. She turned her back on love centuries ago, but somehow it had managed to reclaim her. Not only had it brought light to her dark world, but also it had consumed her completely and entirely. One woman, one beautiful, intelligent, strong, brave woman had walked into her life and rescued her soul. And now she was about to commit herself to that woman before the Goddess of Love and her family. She was ready to pledge herself to Greer for eternity.

The arbor where Aphrodite stood in a flowing golden chiffon gown, waiting to wed her favorite niece was covered with blossoms. The light scent of honeysuckle floated on a gentle breeze as the last glow of sunlight slowly grew dim. The small gathering of people focused their attention to the front as a lyre and a flute began to play, the soft melody calming the small crowd to silence.

A small path led from either side of the area to behind a row of hedges that enclosed this section of the garden making it secluded. At the same moment Lexie appeared from around an opening in the right hedge, accompanied by her parents, Greer appeared from the left hedge, escorted by her father.

Lexie paused seeing Greer in her gown for the first time, taking in the beauty of the woman she loved as the ivory colored satin gown showed off Greer's exquisite shoulders and hugged her hips in just the right way before falling to the ground to pool at her feet. Her honey gold hair was pulled up away from her face only to fall again behind her ears in a wavy mane down her back. The sight took Lexie's breath away.

Greer smiled brightly at Lexie in her champagne color fitted suit, trimmed at the waist with a blue forget-me-not pinned to the lapel. The open neck shirt allowed her to see clearly the amulet of the Amazons Artemis had given her daughter just before the ceremony. She could not take her eyes off Lexie, even as Joseph gently urged her forward. He had been working hard with Ginny to ensure that he could walk his daughter down the aisle and even though Greer was as much helping him to walk as he was guiding her, Joseph beamed with pride as he reached out and placed Lexie's hand on top of Greer's. Kissing both his girls on the cheek, Joseph was delighted to find Athena on one arm and Artemis on the other as they helped him to his seat.

Just as Lexie and Greer had begun their entrance, Mac and Paulie joined Aphrodite. Now Mac stood beside Lexie and Paulie, having removed her long coat and wide brimmed hat, stood next to Greer. The last of the light was almost gone and dozens of lanterns suddenly came to life casting a soft glow on the entire setting.

Aphrodite waited for her sister and Artemis to take their seats before beginning. “Everyone, thank you all for coming to join in the celebration of the love of Lexie and Greer. They have come here today before you to join together and declare their commitment to each other in a life and love shared.”

A sniffle could be heard from Mrs. Stark and Ginny quickly handed her a tissue. Athena reached for her wife's hand and held tight as they watched their little one take the first step to starting a family of her own. They listened as Aphrodite continued on until it came time for Lexie to declare her vows.

Taking a deep breath to calm her voice Lexie gazed up into green eyes and smiled. “Greer, before meeting you I lived a life in shadows, knowing the world only as an empty and lonely place. You brought the light back into my life and I wish to dwell in your radiance for the rest of time. I promise to protect you, to honor you and to love you with all that I am.”

A single tear escaped the corner of Greer's eye as she smiled brightly at Lexie, increasing her grip on the small hands held in her own. “Lexie, you have shown me how full life can truly be, full of love, adventure, and trust. You are my life, my love and I trust in you above all else. I promise to protect you, to honor you and to love you with all that I am.”

Aphrodite held out two rings and waited until each woman had taken one. Together Greer and Lexie placed the rings on the tip of each others third finger. “Do you Lexie and you Greer take the other to be your Heavenly wed wife to love and keep for time eternal?”

The ‘I do's' were spoken in unison as rings were slipped into place. “Then by the power of Me I pronounce you married, you may kiss your wife.” Aphrodite beamed as Lexie placed the sweetest kiss upon Greer's lips then whispered in her ear ‘I am yours'.

As the couple turned to their gathered family and friends, Lexie caught sight of Mac discreetly brushing away a tear. “I saw that.” She said out the side of her mouth while elbowing her friend in the ribs.

Mac tried to glare at her diminutive friend but instead just chuckled. After all if Lexie, the most reserve person she had ever met could express her feelings so eloquently, so could she. Mac watched as Lexie led her new bride into the waiting group of well wishers. So focused was she that Mac did not see Bron sidle up to her and wrap an arm around her shoulder. She did however notice when the beautiful elf placed a kiss upon her temple.

“They are beautiful together.” Bron whispered.

“And they are going to rock this world.” Mac added before turning to her lovely date. “But they are not the only beautiful people here.” She smiled and offered her arm as a way of invitation. “May I buy the most beautiful woman here a drink?”

“It's an open bar.” Bron smiled as she wrapped her arm through the offered one.

“Even better.” Mac led the way to where everyone had gathered at the opposite end of the garden under a marquee filled with food and drink and a lot of very happy people.


At some point late in the evening Lexie had managed to whisk Greer away unseen. They stopped for only a moment to pick up their bags at the house before Lexie transported them to a cozy little cottage high on a cliff overlooking the Tasmanian Sea . The sun was just setting so enough light still remained for Greer to take in her surroundings.

“Oh Lexie, it's beautiful.” She breathed in the sea air and wrapped Lexie up in her arms. “Where are we?”

“ New Zealand .” Lexie smiled.

Greer's eyes grew wide as she took another look around. As many times as she had traveled ‘Lexie style' as she liked to think of it, it never ceased to amaze her. Looking down into bright blue eyes Greer smiled. “It's perfect. Almost as much as you are.”

Lexie's smile slid into a smirk as she scooped her wife up in her arms. “Oh you haven't seen perfect yet.” Giving the door a small kick, Lexie carried her bride over the threshold to begin their honeymoon.

Two days later they finally stepped outside the cabin once again. With a daypack of food they set out to do some hiking. Lexie could not remember ever being this content and happy and she wished this peacefulness would last forever. But something had been pulling at her, a feeling that at first had felt very distant, but was slowly drawing near. Soon Lexie's world would erupt once again, another fight, another emergency, another situation that required her attention. Only this time she would not be alone, Greer would be with her, if not in body but in spirit.

Where Lexie had once been fractured she was now whole. A physical change had come over her when Aphrodite had joined them. What once was separate was now united and the essence of Greer filled Lexie, giving her a strength and certainty that no force in this world or any other could defeat. And while Lexie braced herself for something powerful that was headed their way she was comforted in the knowledge that Greer would be waiting at the end of the battle to take her home, their home.



A day earlier than expected Lexie cut their honeymoon short. The pull that had been nagging at her had intensified and Lexie now knew what was coming or rather whom. With Greer by her side she stopped at her parents' house.

Landing on the terrace Lexie wasted no time in making her presence known. “Mom! Mother! We've got trouble!” She yelled as they burst through the double doors. Greer stayed close by her side holding tight to one small hand.

Athena rushed into the room looking to see if Lexie were okay. “Lexie, what is it? What's going on?” She could see her daughter's eyes darkening and knew that whatever was happening was serious.

“Where's Mother?”

“She's gone to see Ares.” Greer was with Lexie so that was one worry off Athena's mind. “You are worrying me Lexie.”

“Good. Call Mother and have her bring Ares and you might want to call Zeus. I've already sent a message to Percy and Aphie, we've got just under an hour and I want to meet with everyone first.”

“Just under an hour till what?” Athena was getting exasperated with Lexie's lack of details.


A chill ran down Athena's spine at the mention of that name. “That's not possible, he was banished to another universe.”

“Mom,” Lexie raised an eyebrow, “aren't you the one who taught me that nothing is impossible.”

Still holding Lexie's hand Greer had remained silent, but seeing Athena visibly pale she began to worry. “Lexie I know you explained this all to me, but your mom looks like she's just seen a ghost. What aren't you telling me?” Fear was starting to creep in again knowing that Lexie was about to face something that was making the mighty Athena quake in her boots.

“The Titanomachy…” Athena whispered as she sat heavily upon the nearest chair.

“No.” Lexie told her mom then turned to Greer. “Sweetie I promise you we can handle it, I've got a plan.” She turned back to her mom. “Mom, come on, I need you.” They were the correct words to draw Athena's attention back to Lexie. “Gather the family, everyone you can and meet me in Thessaly . I think I have a way to send the mighty Titan back where he came from. We don't have much time, I'll meet you in the field.” Seeing the determined glean in the grey eyes that were so much like her own, Lexie gave Greer a wink and then they were gone.

A breath later they appeared in a wildflower strewn meadow. Greer could see mountain ranges surrounding them and she knew they were standing in the former battleground where the Titans and Gods had fought for dominance over the earth. Last time this ground bore witness to a fierce war that lasted for ten years. Greer shuddered to think of what was about to happen, as history was about to repeat itself. Before she could ask Lexie about her plan people began to appear out of thin air. Some she had already met while other were complete strangers. As Lexie began to greet the new arrivals it occurred to Greer that these were not strangers, but Lexie's family. She took a moment to observe each one of the nearly two dozen Gods and could not help the smile that pulled at one corner of her mouth. Lexie had one very handsome family.

Within moments everyone had arrived and everyone gathered around were Lexie and Greer stood. Artemis stood by Greer and watched as her daughter stepped forward interrupting Zeus who was calling everyone to order.

“Forgive me Zeus, I know you have fought and defeated the Titans before, but we are not facing an army this time.” Lexie raised her voice just enough to be heard by all and addressed her elders. “Kronos comes alone.” A mummer started, but she was quick to quell it. “I can not tell you how I know this, but you must trust me that what I feel is a singularity. One man, one Titan, the greatest of all Titans, who has spent centuries rebuilding his strength. I cannot know his purpose in returning, but I fear it is not good. There is a lot of hostility associated with him. He will be here soon and we must be ready.”

“What chance does one Titan have against all of us? We can easily defeat him if it comes to that.” Ares said with overconfidence.

“Kronos can not be killed Uncle.” Lexie reminded him. “But if you will all listen I have a plan that will send him back to his own universe to hopefully never return or at least not for a really long time.”

Zeus stepped forward and gave Lexie a steely glare; he was not accustomed to Lexie's dominating personality. When she did not wither under his intense scrutiny he gave a slight nod. “Then let us hear of this plan.” While he was still the King, he was also smart enough to listen when the stakes were this high.

Within moments Lexie had laid out her plan, a few protests went up, namely from her parents but Lexie assured them that she knew what she was doing. And considering she was the only one of them whom was still actively in combat on a daily basis the Gods agreed to give their youngest one a chance to prove herself. She quickly arranged everyone in a chevron with Greer safely ensconced behind their protective shield and Zeus at the head of the point.

Before leaving to take her place a short distance in front of the group, Lexie gave Greer a kiss for luck. “Remember just focus on me with every particle of your being and nothing else and keep your eyes on me at all times.”

“But Lexie what if something goes wrong?” Greer worried as she grabbed Lexie's arm.

Cupping both hands around Greer's face Lexie smiled. “With you at my back nothing can go wrong, you give me the strength of a God, but if it does I will get you out of here.” She pressed a smoldering kiss to Greer's lips and then stepped away.

“Goddess, the last time I checked.” Greer called to the retreating back.

Lexie chuckled at the correction then quickly pulled her focus in. The atmosphere was beginning to crackle and she could feel a strong vibration in the air as a bright streak of light came hurtling towards the earth from space. Alone she stood and waited as the ground exploded at the far end of the meadow. The light intensified just before going out and from the smoke and falling debris emerged a towering figure of a man, Kronos.

He looked old to Lexie, but she could still see strength in the way he moved. Long grey hair fell down his back and there seemed to be a slight slump to those broad shoulders. His gait was slow but steady and his purpose shone clearly from his dark eyes. For a man who had just crashed to earth, Kronos did not hesitate. He stepped out of the wreckage of the small sphere that had brought him here and strode halfway across the distance separating them before calling out to his welcoming committee, his voice booming like thunder. “Zeus, I have returned to claim what is rightfully mine.”

“Kronos, you have no rights here, this is no longer your home.” Lexie spoke loudly drawing his attention for the first time. She could feel anger and rage radiating off him and it was all focused at her grandfather.

Coming to a halt Kronos looked at Lexie. “What is this Zeus? Are you sending children to fight your battles for you now? It makes no difference because I intend to wipe your lineage from this earth.” There was still some distance between the great Titan and Lexie so he began to advance on her again.

“Why am I related to all the colossal assholes?” Lexie muttered to herself as she took a step forward signaling the others to get ready. “You know if you would have only been nice this could have all turned out differently.” Lexie told the enraged Titan as he picked up speed in her direction. Reaching back Lexie braced herself for the combined power of the gathered Gods and Goddesses that was being hurtled at her. In one great arching motion she plucked the energy of that power from the air and brought it into herself before slamming one hand down on the ground and drawing the power of the earth into her as well then standing and releasing it all on Kronos.

The explosion was so bright and thunderous that it had everyone crouching for cover. Everything had happened so fast that Kronos did not have time to guard himself and therefore took the direct hit, hurtling him across space in the blink of an eye and back to his own planet. The Gods were stunned momentarily but quickly stood their ground ready to fight, even while trying to make the ringing stop in their ears and blinking away the dark spots before their eyes. Mere seconds passed before they realized quiet and stillness was all that remained in the field. Athena was the first to blink away the spots; looking down the meadow she found no Kronos and no Lexie. She blinked again to make sure, but the high grass stood empty. “Lexie.” She called as she began running to where her daughter had last stood.

Hearing the fear in Athena's voice Greer looked up to see the empty field, taking off she and Artemis caught up to the taller Goddess just as she reached where Lexie had made her stand against Kronos. Rushing down the field they all came to a halt upon seeing the small figure collapsed in the grass unconscious.

“Lexie!” Greer screamed as she dropped down beside her wife cradling the small body in her arms.

Artemis checked Lexie's pulse then began examining the rest of her body. “She's alive Greer, that was a lot of power she took in, it probably just knocked her unconscious, we'll get her to Paulie and she'll be just fine.” Artemis was trying to calm Greer down as much as she was herself. No one had ever channeled that much power before and she was not a hundred percent sure what it had done to her daughter.

The entire family quickly gathered around their fallen hero while Ares and Apollo made a cursory sweep of the area. No sign of Kronos could be found, only a deep rut where he had last stood. Zeus, who had not spent much time with his granddaughter over the last few hundred years, now kneeled down by her side. A lock of graying hair fell across his furrowed brow as he ran a hand along her temple and admired the small wonder before him. “My little one you truly are the Gods' greatest gift.”

“Ugghhhh” Lexie moaned, “What hell was that?” Moaning again and tried to lift her head to no avail. “No do more that again.” She could not open her eyes so Lexie decided to just go to sleep, she was not sure but she thought a train may have just run over her.

Smiling down at his granddaughter, Zeus lifted Greer's tear stained face and bestowed the same warm smile one her. “She's going to be alright my dear. We Olympians are a hardy breed. Take her home to rest.” Standing, he continued to look down on Lexie with great pride and a bit of wonder. One day soon he would have to have a long talk with Lexie, but that could wait. “And Greer.” Greer looked up at the king of the Gods. “Welcome to the family.” In the blink of an eye he was gone.

Greer blinked once remembering that Lexie's family could just do that, pushing those thoughts from her mind she once again focused on Lexie. Conversations were happening all around her but she really did not want to listen as people tried to figure out how Lexie had done that and where she had sent Kronos. Suddenly two pair of strong arms wrapped around both she and Lexie and before she could question it they were sitting on their bed in their own home. Athena left again just as quickly while Artemis helped Greer undress Lexie and get her into bed. Eyes that were both blue and grey opened as Lexie was being tucked into bed and looked around lazily before landing on Greer. “You're cute.” Lexie slurred. “Kiss, kiss.” Lexie puckered her lips but just as quickly passed out again.

“Is she drunk?” Greer asked hoping that was the worst of what had happened to Lexie.

“A little too much power perhaps.” Artemis replied unsure. At that point Athena returned with Paulie.

The petit doctor looked at the pale features of her best friend and shook her head. “What did she do this time?” Not waiting for an answer she began a thorough examination. Everyone took a step back, giving the doctor room to work without leaving the room. And although Lexie giggled at some of Paulie's poking and prodding, she never woke up. Finally Paulie put away her instruments and gave a huff. “There's no damage that I can find. You said she was channeling power?” Paulie gave Athena a critical glare. “What say we fix a cup of tea and you explain exactly what happened?” The two goddesses reluctantly walked out of the room leaving Paulie alone with Greer. “It's alright love, I think she just overdid it a little. She'll sleep it off. You keep an eye on her while I go see what those two have to say.” She gave the tall blonde a small squeeze on the arm before leaving.

Alone at last Greer kicked off her shoes then crawled up in the bed to snuggle up next to Lexie. She had been terrified when Kronos had first arrived, but the love she felt from Lexie kept her grounded and she was able to return that feeling tenfold to her wife. The experience of seeing Lexie at her most powerful and now at her weakest had left Greer exhausted. Wrapping an arm around the small waist and tucking her head onto Lexie's shoulder, she could not help thinking. ‘You're going to be the worry of me Lexie.' Soon the soothing sound of Lexie's breathing comforted Greer to sleep and when Paulie looked in on them later that was exactly how she found them.

The sight warmed her more than she could have imagined. “Yes Lex love, you are going to be just fine.”

The next day Lexie managed to pry one eyelid open. Her head felt like it had been used as a replacement for the World Cup football and her throat was so dry she could only make a low rumbling sound deep in her chest. Instantly she was met with brilliant blue eyes that held as much anger as they did concern. Lexie tried to swallow at seeing the emotion in her mother's eyes, but found the task impossible. Seeing her daughter's discomfort, Artemis quickly opened a bottle of water that had been waiting by the ready and handed it to Lexie. She waited while Lexie drank the entire bottle in one long draft then handed over another. “Damn it Lexie, don't you ever do that again!”

Drinking down the second bottle Lexie gave her mother a small smile knowing she was talking about the whole big boom thing and not the rude way she was drinking. “Yes Mother, I don't have a desire to do that again anytime soon.” A sound caught her attention and she looked over to see a smiling Greer coming through the door. Headache or not she gave Greer her best smile in return noticing the relief in the bright green eyes.

Greer rushed to the bed stopping just short of flinging herself at Lexie. Acutely evident was a dullness in Lexie's blue eyes and a small ring of grey still remained around her iris. Instead she leaned down to place a gentle kiss on the still wet lips. “Hey you, how you feeling?”

“Better now.” Lexie looked over Greer's shoulder to see Paulie enter her room followed by Athena, Aphie, H, and Percy. “You guys having a party without me?”

Pushing Artemis out of the way, Paulie began examining Lexie. “How do you feel Lex, anything hurt?” She was worried that Lexie had only been asleep a day and was not fully recovered.

“Only my head and where you keep poking me in the side. Stop doing that.” Lexie swatted at Paulie's hands. “If you want to be helpful give me an aspirin.” Lexie took a moment to self-evaluate and realized that except for the headache she really did feel better than she ever had.

“You sure that's all?” Greer asked as she brushed Lexie's unruly hair out of her face.

“Well…” Lexie looked down at her lap.

“What is it sweetheart?” A small sliver of fear began to creep up Greer's spine.

All of a sudden a loud noise echoed from Lexie's stomach. Slightly embarrassed Lexie looked up with an unabashed grin. “I could eat a dinosaur right now.”

The entire room erupted into laughter as Greer tried to give the impish woman her best glare. She did not succeed and a chuckle escaped her. Paulie felt a small sense of relief; if Lexie's appetite was in tact then she must be okay.

“Right.” Percy shouted over the din. “One breakfast of champions coming up.” As she turned to go Aphie joined her. “I'll help.” Giving her niece a wink she followed Percy down the hall to put together as much food as they could.

“I suppose we should let you get dressed.” Athena said as she began ushering her wife out of the room.

As if noticing for the first time he was in Lexie's bedroom, H blushed a bright crimson. “I should be going, glad to see you're doing better Lexie.” Before leaving he gave her a loving smile. “Good job little one.” Then he was gone.

Only Paulie and Greer remained in the room. Paulie reached into her pocket and pulled out a small packet of fig newtons. “Here eat this before you get in the shower. It'll hold you until your breakfast is ready.”

“Shower?” Lexie laughed. “You saying I smell Paulie?”

“Consider it doctor's orders. I'll leave you two to it. Greer, make sure she brushes her teeth.” Without another word Paulie left to join the others in the kitchen.

“Can you believe that?” Lexie huffed.

Pulling her shirt off and flinging it at Lexie, Greer grinned as she walked into the bathroom. “Let's get those teeth brushed.”

Lexie was no fool, and quite capable of recognizing a gift when she saw one, she crammed both fig cookies into her mouth while sliding out of the bed to hurry after her lovely wife.


Darkness descended as a hush quickly spread through out the building until only the soft sounds of a lone violin could be heard. From high in the rafters two bright blue eyes peered down at the shadowed figures below moving about with grace, beauty and precision. Excitement flooded Lexie as it did every time she performed, but this time it was accompanied by something else, a sense of inner peace. For the first time Lexie felt as though she had everything she could ever want. She had an exciting job and was fortunate enough to work with people she respected and loved, her family was becoming more present in her life, and she had finally found her soulmate. Life in the twenty-first century was looking pretty good.

From this vantage point she watched her stage manager, her business partner and best friend – Mac – running around making sure the show went off without a hitch. With a sinister glint in her eye and a wicked grin, Lexie dropped to the stage on her cue instead of climbing down and entering from the wings like she was suppose to. The death glare she received from Mac was exactly what she was hoping for; after all she had to give the old girl something to complain about.

With a wink and a smile the elfin like creature flitted across the stage to join her fellow performers. For tonight the Protector of Mankind was here merely to provide entertainment for the people she watched over.

And seated in the dark of the back row, a tall blonde watched with a satisfied smile, knowing that the small creature that was being flung into the air was as much a part of her as she was of Lexie. The years of loneliness no longer showed in Lexie's features because she now had a partner to stand by her side and fight the good fight along with her for the rest of their lives. Greer relaxed into her seat, no longer afraid of the death-defying stunts she watched her wife perform. After seeing what Lexie was truly capable of and feeling the intensity of that power within herself, Greer knew she had nothing to worry about. On the day of Kronos as Greer liked to think of it, she and Lexie had attained a level of connectedness she had never imagined could exist. They were indeed two halves of a whole. Souls reunited for the rest of time.

The End


July 8, 2013



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